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Missing persons in Mexico: RAI2 correspondent denied an interview and now under protection

“We’ll throw acid in your face” was how they threatened on Facebook the journalist Claudia Marra after the cancellation of a live broadcast with the RAI2 programme I Fatti Vostri.

Since the 27th February 2018 the journalist Claudia Marra, special correspondent of the RAI2 news programme I Fatti Vostri is under the protection of officers from the General Prevention Office of the Police Headquarters of Naples. The coordinator of the Office, Dr. Michele Spina has set up a service of dedicated general supervision. The supervision has been put in place following threatening messages sent to the journalist via Facebook. “We’ll throw acid in your face” one of them wrote. Others directed sexist insults at her. Others made death threats to her. The journalist immediately reported the incidents. The police headquarters of Naples has appreciated that the threats are real and has laid on a protection service. The postal police and the mobile squad of Naples are investigating the matter.

Claudia Marra has worked in RAI since 2002 and has worked for over ten years on Vita in Diretta specialising always on crime stories. She had been threatened a few hours before being given protection. On the morning of the 27th February, together with the production team she had to record a relative’s statement on the Italian aspect of the affair of the three Neapolitans mysteriously missing in Mexico since January 31st of whom there is still no news. Over this affair, four local police officers of Tecalitlan in Mexico have been arrested. They have to answer the charge of forced disappearance (read).

On the 24th February one of the relatives of the missing persons had agreed to be interviewed by the journalist on the 27th February in Naples and broadcast live for the RAI programme. The direct link was set for midday and she had arrived with the production team at the house of the individual. According to what had been agreed, the man would reply to several questions to explain how he and other relatives recently returned to Naples had learned of the disappearance in Mexico.

But, before the interview could begin, the man said he would not respect the agreed sequence and would denounce an alleged and ill-defined disinterest of the Italian authorities for the fate of the three missing individuals. His remarks to the programme director who was consulted by telephone were sufficiently inappropriate for those responsible to cancel the link.

The man showed his disappointment by posting immediately on Facebook, “Free the Neapolitans in Mexico” accompanied by a video made with his mobile phone showing himself, the journalist and the team whilst they prepared to leave his home commenting on the cancellation of the interview with this title, “They want me to say only what they want. They won’t let me speak. Shame.”

Offensive and threatening comments on Facebook followed the posting of the video, both towards the reporter and towards RAI. In addition, the journalist received, always on Facebook, private messages containing serious threats among which that about disfigurement with acid. These comments created great anxiety. Claudia Marra did not reply but immediately informed the police.

Lined up in support of the journalist were the FNSI, the Usigrai, the Sugc and the Ordine dei Giornalisti which in an added note asked RAI to support “the journalist against the authors of the video and the threats” and said it was ready to “form the civil part in any subsequent trial against these persons”(read here).

Marra is defended by the Advocate Maurizio Zuccaro.

“My client” the Advocate Maurizio Zuccaro told Ossigeno “has chosen not to exacerbate the situation , because, I am certain of it, it is not useful to reply to those who adopt means such as video to fuel hatred and violence, as they have done against my client. We understand the suffering of whomever doesn’t have news of their own relatives but we cannot tolerate unethical behaviour, above all in a live broadcast during the morning hours”.

The precedents in Campania: from 2011 until now in Campania, Ossigeno has identified 468 serious violations of press freedom and freedom of expression committed by acts of violence and abuse towards journalists, bloggers, video operators, photo-journalists and editors whose names are listed in the Observatory Table. In 2017 42 names have been added to this list.

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