‘Gomorrah’ writer Roberto Saviano faces trial Tuesday for defamation filed by Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Gior

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Italian writer, journalist and political commentator Roberto Saviano is due to appear in court in Rome on Tuesday (Nov. 15) for the first hearing in a defamation lawsuit brought against him by Italy’s newly installed right-wing Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni.

The case is related to an incident that took place before Meloni took power in Italy in October.

Meloni sues Saviano over comments he made about current affairs show Piazza Pulic in December 2020, during a discussion about the phenomenon of asylum seekers on the small-boat shores, in which he called her an “asshole” for her tough, anti-immigrant stance.

The judge charged with a preliminary investigation into the case that the “epithet bastard” had gone “beyond the rights of political criticism” and gave the green light to the trial.

The trial is seen as a test case for Italian freedom of expression and the increasing use of defamation as a means of silencing the press.

Saviano is internationally known for his research work from 2006 gomorrah, about the Naples organized crime group the Camorra. The book sparked the ire of crime bosses and led to numerous death threats, earning Saviano police protection.

Italian director Matteo Garrone adapted the work, with Saviano, into a feature film of the same name that won the Cannes Grand Prize of the Jury in 2008. The book also formed the basis for the six-season high-end series, produced by Sky Italia, Fandango, Cattleya and Beta and directed by Stefano Sollima, Francesca Comencini and Claudio Cupellini.

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At the time of Saviano’s 2020 comments, the drowning of a six-month-old child when a dinghy he was traveling in capsized in the news in Italy after the Spanish NGO that rescued his mother decided to release a video showing her suffering. shows.

The child was one of six people who died that night in a year when an estimated 1,881 people would die crossing the Mediterranean Sea along various routes, according to the UNHCR refugee agency.

In the months leading up to this event, the leader of Italy’s brother Meloni and Nationalist League party leader Matteo Salvini, who is now a coalition partner in her government, targeted charity ships patrolling the Mediterranean to help people in distress at sea, referring to them as “migrant taxis” and saying they should be sequestered and scuttled.

Talking about the dead child and his mother, Saviano scolded the couple, saying: “You remember all this nonsense being said about the NGOs, that they were ‘sea taxis’, ‘cruises’. All that comes to mind are assholes. To Meloni, to Salvini, motherfuckers, how could you? How was it possible to describe all this pain like that?”

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Saviano has no remorse for his comments despite the pending trial and has continued to voice harsh criticism of Meloni and her new government. for organizers of illegal raves.

In a recent interview on Radio Capital radio station in Rome, Saviano revealed that Salvino and new Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano had also filed defamation complaints against him.

He suggested they targeted him to warn other journalists who wanted to criticize members of their government and its coalition parties.

“They were all defamation complaints related to my very harsh criticism of them. They beat me to get the message across to my colleagues and, above all, to manipulate, to make it seem that a harsh and ruthless criticism of a politician can be understood in the same context as a remark you make to an ordinary citizen. said.

“There’s another underhanded mechanism at play here, which is, ‘If you criticize me, you’re going against democracy itself, because it’s the voice that empowers me to do what I do. So your conduct is unlawful.” This is very dangerous because democracy is not based solely on voting, which is a fundamental and fundamental part of democracy, but above all based on respect for criticism,” he continued.

“There is something alarming behind this game and that is if you criticize me after the country is with me and I have the majority, you are wrong.”

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Tuesday’s hearing comes amid a flare-up in debate over how best to deal with people trying to get to Europe from North Africa in small boats after Meloni’s government prevented three rescue ships carrying hundreds of rescued migrants. disembarked at the ports.

The new policy resulted in one ship being diverted to the French port of Toulon after three weeks at sea, sparking a diplomatic spat between France and Italy

The writers’ association Pen International has urged Meloni to withdraw the charges in an open letter published online and in the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

“As prime minister of Italy, prosecuting your case against him would send a chilling message to all journalists and writers in the country, who may no longer speak out for fear of reprisals,” wrote Burhan Sonmez, president of Pen International.

“Saviano is not alone. We stand with him and will continue to campaign until all libel charges against him are dropped and his right to express his views peacefully is confirmed once and for all.”

The post ‘Gomorrah’ writer Roberto Saviano to face Tuesday for defamation filed by Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni appeared first on TBEN.