Italian prosecutor’s claims against Guardian reporter flagged by human rights watchdog

1 year ago 113

Two libel claims by an aggrieved Italian authoritative against a Guardian writer person been flagged arsenic imaginable acts of authorities “harassment and intimidation” connected an alert strategy tally by Europe’s starring government-backed quality rights organisation, the Council of Europe.

Calogero Ferrara, a authoritative successful Palermo, filed the defamation suits successful 2019 against the writer Lorenzo Tondo implicit a Facebook station and a bid of allegedly inaccurate articles published by the Guardian. A archetypal proceeding of 1 of the libel cases has present been acceptable for February 2022.

It is claimed successful an alert posted connected the Council of Europe “safety platform” by the European federation of Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists that the lawsuits volition successful effect forestall Tondo from carrying retired his reporting duties. The Italian authorities is yet to respond to the alert.

According to the Council of Europe, a postwar organisation of which 47 subordinate authorities governments are signatories, the “safety of journalists” level reports connected “serious threats to the information of journalists and media state successful Europe successful bid to reenforce the Council of Europe’s effect to the threats and subordinate states’ accountability”.

In the past year, determination person been 212 specified alerts successful 33 countries, to which 78 person received a effect from the authorities involved. None of the alerts person been “resolved”, according to the Council of Europe.

Ferrara’s defamation claims against Tondo subordinate to his reporting connected the lawsuit of an Eritrean man, Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe, who a tribunal recovered was mistakenly identified by prosecutors successful Palermo successful 2016, arsenic 1 of the world’s most-wanted quality traffickers, Medhanie Yehdego Mered, nicknamed “the General”.

In July 2019, Judge Alfredo Montalto rejected the prosecutors’ lawsuit against Berhe and ordered his contiguous release. He had been arrested successful Khartoum, Sudan, with assistance of the UK’s National Crime Agency and the Sudanese police.

“It was a lawsuit of mistaken identity,” the justice said. “The antheral successful situation was wrongly arrested.”

Berhe was recovered blameworthy of aiding amerciable migration for having helped his relative to scope Libya. Because helium had already served 3 years successful prison, the justice ordered his contiguous release.

The archetypal lawsuit against Berhe, led by Ferrara, was recovered successful a 400-page judicial study by the tribunal of assizes to beryllium blameworthy of “serious neglect” by withholding evidence. According to judges, the prosecutors’ accusations successful immoderate instances “appeared patently inconsistent and inadequate”.

The prosecutors are appealing against the judgments connected what is known successful Italy arsenic the “Mered” trial. According to the alert connected the Council of Europe platform, “as a result” of the lawsuits against Tondo, the Guardian’s confederate Italy correspondent, helium volition not beryllium capable to study connected the entreaty hearings, which started connected 27 October.

The Council of Europe alert says: “In 2016, nationalist prosecutors successful Sicily had announced the apprehension successful Khartoum (Sudan) of a 35-year-old Eritrean who they alleged was Medhanie Yehdego Mered, besides known arsenic ‘The General’, 1 of the world’s most-wanted planetary radical traffickers.

“During the consequent proceedings successful Palermo, doubts were raised – archetypal of each by Tondo connected the ground of evidence-based investigative enactment – that the arrested antheral was not Mered but an guiltless exile whose sanction was Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe, whereas Mered was escaped and progressive successful Uganda.

“Between December 2019 and January 2020, Tondo was notified of 2 civilian lawsuits for defamation filed by authoritative Ferrara: 1 implicit his Facebook station and 1 implicit his articles posted connected the Guardian.

“Although the mandatory mediation effort was concluded connected 5 November 2020, authoritative Ferrara waited astir 1 twelvemonth earlier confirming the lawsuits, which were notified soon earlier the commencement of the 2nd ‘Mered’ trial. Critics accidental this mightiness bespeak a strategical determination to intimidate and forestall Tondo from covering the 2nd ‘Mered’ trial.”

Romina Marceca, a writer with the Italian paper la Repubblica, is besides been sued by Ferrara for her reporting connected the archetypal trial.

Alberto Spampinato, the manager of Ossigeno per l’informazione, an organisation established to support the rights of journalists, said: “Criticising a authoritative successful Italy is risky. If a writer dares to bash so, it is apt that the authoritative volition writer him for defamation and unit him to support himself successful tribunal and to carnivore the related costs.

“Events of this benignant are not uncommon and enactment journalists successful superior difficulty. Ossigeno per l’informazione volition proceed to enactment Lorenzo Tondo during this ineligible conflict and volition proceed to bash so, alongside the Guardian and the assemblage of European journalists.”

When contacted, Ferrara said helium had asked his lawyer to respond.