16 years after “Berlusconi unfit”. The Economist was correct
It was established by the Supreme Court. Also the daily La Repubblica was acquitted from having republished the article of the British weekly
ROME, 28 FEBRUARY 2017 – It was rejected by the Supreme Court the appeal by Silvio Berlusconi against the British weekly The Economist for the article published on April 26, 2001 in which a negative opinion on the suitability of the leader of the centre right to cover the role of prime minister was vented. For the judges, the article was not defamatory – as claimed by Berlusconi – but did in fact exercise the right to journalistic criticism. Confirmed the ‘acquittal’ of The Economist decided on appeal in 2012 in Milan. For having taken up the article which appeared on The Economist, also the L’Espresso group had been denounced. Even in this case the judicial debate concluded with the exclusion of defamation for an article published by the newspaper La Repubblica on April 27, 2001, concurrent with the holding period of the election campaign for the 2001 elections in which Berlusconi was a candidate.
In the appeal to the Supreme Court, the blue leader’s lawyers challenged the truth of the facts and the overcoming of the limits of countenance. In particular, according to the lawyers of the former prime minister, only the facts about the “numerous criminal investigations” to which Berlusconi had been subjected to in those years were deemed true, while the facts reported relative to the obscurity of the origins of his capital and the existence of links with the mafia were not true at all. The Supreme Court responded that said opinions were “an exercise of political criticism, in this case done by a weekly concerned with major economic and political events both national and international; and the statements, which are now a part of history, and which having already held a wide public broadcasting, so much so that they have affected the public reputation of a person which has wide political aspirations (and as such are of certain public interest); also, other facts, of which even the magazine does not reveal the source, does indicate the reconstruction process (in particular, copies of the minutes of an interrogation)”. The chief judges continue adding that this case falls within the right of journalistic criticism and is an exercise in political criticism when an article, such as that of The Economist, “is not limited to resign the facts, but uses them as elements upon which, when taken together (for their diversity, their severity, for the fact of not being isolated incidents but which instead characterize the entire political and public path of the person in question) can then build up an evaluation, and an all-political one at that, which deems the political subject objectively inadequate for running the country having attested the sequence of events in which he was involved”. Berlusconi was also ordered to pay 10,000 euro for legal costs incurred before the Supreme Court by the British weekly.