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Interview with the lawyer Giuseppe Rossodivita


Good morning Rossodivita Lawyer, can you briefly tell us your professional history?

"In a nutshell, I would say that my professional history is quite unique, because the day after I passed the bar exam, I was called by a person who in my opinion has made the history of this country, Marco Pannella, who I already knew previously.

Pannella asked me to deal with the legal issues and legal initiatives of the Radical Party. So my professional history was characterized by this activity, which continues today. This gave me the opportunity to follow, not only processes with high political and media sensitivity, but also many stories of many ordinary people, because the Radical Party, for the last chance, is addressed by many people who have serious problems with justice, as the Radical Party has devoted much of its attention to initiatives aimed at obtaining "just justice" in Italy, which unfortunately is still far from being there. "


In your experience, what are the critical issues for the defense in high media impact proceedings?

“Well, the critical issues are many! In your question, you stated that some proceedings have a high impact on public opinion. I believe that public opinion is quite "remote controlled" by the press and television.

There are proceedings that are beginning to attract some attention and this creates obvious difficulties at the procedural level, compared, for example, to the same impartiality of the judge. Judges are like all other people, they read newspapers, they watch television, even they who should arrive at the trial with a "virgin mind", they say so, in reality they are deeply influenced.

But this does not happen by chance, it happens due to a strategy that evidently selects certain types of processes, as a result of which the conveyance of the investigative documents to the editorial offices of the newspapers causes a case to be established.

I'll give you an example: in the "Mafia Capitale" trial, you will all remember how when this operation was announced with the press conference, which was given a name that was supposed to lead public opinion to believe that it was a trial for the Mafia, with the transmission of videos of the arrests of Carminati and other characters, in order to create an atmosphere that would then have had to direct the trial.

Why does this happen? It happens because there is an interest of the prosecutors, which represent the most important power that exists in Italy today and which in the face of this enormous power are in any case exempt from liability.

There is an inadequate law on civil liability, on professional and disciplinary responsibility, and there is the CSM that even the most distracted have been able to realize what it is.

But this means that there is a power supply that then leads journalists to be, as it were, a little succubus, a little accomplices, a little conniving, even for their own personal interest. Because then, having a relationship with a power of attorney means having the possibility to have access to confidential investigations, to be able to publish them and to feed an editorial market that then brings money and advertising. "


Do you think there is a boundary between legitimate investigative journalism and the media process?

“In my opinion, these are two completely distinct activities. Investigative journalism is one thing, the media process is another. Investigative and investigative journalism, which in Italy is a rarity, leads and should lead, at times it has led, too few times it has led, some powers of attorney as to say "distracted" to having to deepen certain facts and start some perhaps inconvenient judicial inquiries.

But this is journalism doing exactly its duty. With investigative journalism, journalism plays the role of the watchdog of power. With the media process, no! It is exactly the opposite!

We have journalists from the prosecutors' offices who convey the accusatory theses by passing them off as procedural truths, but without a trial yet to be held. And all this, in fact, ensures that the procedural matter is no longer talked about.

The media process involves the destruction of the image, profession, life of a human being.

For example, in the case of Bibbiano where a trial has not yet begun, until now only the versions of the Carabinieri who carried out the investigations and who were "married" by the Prosecutor's Office have been read and listened to. But at this stage, we even witnessed a revocation of the precautionary measure against some suspects, motivated by the GIP in the order for the fact that there was no danger of repetition of the crimes, since the image of the suspects came out totally " dethroned "by the ongoing media process.

Therefore, even the media process that has determined the destruction of the image of those who are currently innocent, and that will be until the sentence against them has become definitive, has made one of the prerequisites for the precautionary measure disappear, because it is like saying : "Your image is so destroyed, that no one will even shake your hand on the street." An innocent person! "


What effects does the spectacularization due to the media process have on the defensive strategy?

“Well, it certainly brings problems, because as I said before, the judges are the first to be conditioned by the whole amount of news published around a particular case.

Think, for example, of the Judges of the Court of Cassation who annulled the sentence with reference to the qualification as mafia, for the process called "Mafia Capital", going against all the expectations created by a journalism that had instead embraced the theses from the beginning of the Public Prosecutor's Office of Rome. So much so, that all the judges of merit (I refer to the Court of Appeal), did not have the courage to go against the theses of the Prosecutor's Office, although they were quite unusual theses in law. However, it was necessary to arrive at the Supreme Court, precisely because of this difficulty in having effectively third judges.

In my opinion, the media process has also led to professional needs that did not exist until some time ago. In the sense that, today the lawyer, coming to the real professional work, but also from an ethical point of view, has the duty to defend the public image of his client. Therefore, when confronted with a highly mediatic process, a 360 ° defensive activity also postulates the need to relate to the media, in order to try to counter the ongoing media lynching.

Unfortunately, this happens with great difficulty, because being the media lynching, as it were, fueled by the acts coming from a prosecutor's office, the journalists themselves, feeling the power hovering around them, are much more inclined to give space to the theses of the prosecution rather than to those of the defense.

We need to meet brave journalists, in Italy we have some, but they are a clear minority. The rest, without too many problems, using an old saying, prefer "to attach the pacifier where the master wants". In this case, the master is the power of attorney, and the journalist is the one who attaches the pacifier where the master wants. And we have everyday examples! "


What effects does the spectacularization of a criminal case have on a defendant?

“These are dire consequences, because they are simply capable of destroying the existence of a person and a chain of family members. It determines a social exclusion, a marginalization from the productive world, a zeroing of any relationship, a situation of psychological devastation.

It is already serious if this happens to a suspect who resides in a large metropolitan city, such as Rome, Milan or Turin, but Italy is made up of eight thousand small municipalities and let's imagine if this happens to people, who are the majority part, living in small urban centers. A person reached by a judicial measure, even during the investigation phase, if he is then exposed to public mockery, is simply a dead person.

Given that, as they used to say, "newspaper lead can kill much more than bullet lead". "


Unfortunately, the criminal trial and the media trial travel at two different speeds. Very often it happens that the judicial process ends long after the media one, when the process is no longer interesting for the media. What are the effects on post-trial life for the accused?

“There is a very difficult path of reconstruction of all relationships, of social credibility and often also of professional credibility. But it is a very hard job because the dethronement of the image takes place immediately, while the possible positive outcome of the process takes place after a very long time and above all, without any media feedback. Therefore, the image remains fixed in the collective imagination, for example, "of the monster of ...", rather than the image of the person unjustly subjected to trial and then acquitted. Here, this fact, for solidity, is not known!

Yet, it is one of the really important problems of the judicial system in Italy, which every year produces at least a thousand victims of judicial errors. In twenty-five years, over twenty-six thousand people have been unjustly detained, both as a precautionary detention and as a result of the execution of definitive sentences. People who have been compensated with 740 million euros, but we pay them as taxpayers. In the sense that those responsible do not pay, I mean the magistrates who are responsible for these errors. In Italy, they don't pay!

The accuser of Enzo Tortora, indeed was rewarded and went to the CSM as a prize. Enzo Tortora was the prime example of the media process.

I don't know how old our listeners are, but when they arrested Enzo Tortora, there were two journalists who defended him. All the Italian press and television, substantially unanimously, had immediately embraced the arguments of the prosecutor. There were two journalists and a politician, Marco Pannella, whom he took to heart and believed in the innocence of Enzo Tortora.

What are the consequences of a media process? In Enzo Tortora it produced a tumor that ended his life. Because these are situations that are very, very, very difficult to handle. One has the impression of being crushed by an irresistible machine because everything moves against you.

Very often in fact, all this is the result of errors, in good faith at best, sometimes maybe you are wrong because you want to make a mistake!

Reminding us that the thousand people who are compensated every year for having unjustly been imprisoned represent the tip of the iceberg. Since not all those who are acquitted have the economic possibilities, the strength, to give life to another procedure which is that of the recognition of judicial error, of unjust detention.

But it is the tip of the iceberg, the problem is serious, it is almost a social problem.

We have one and a half million backlogs to clear each year. Leaving aside the proceedings, which are the phase of the investigation. In this case we have over three million pending files, and this derives from a system that I personally believe needs to be profoundly reformed, first of all in terms of empowering those who hold a "life or death" power over people.

Each person disposes of the good of life, the good of health, the good of freedom and of his own patrimony. In the past, justice dealt with all this. There was the death penalty and there was torture. Today, theoretically, there is no longer the death penalty and torture, but justice continues to occupy itself with the two goods that are the most important beyond life and health, namely freedom and heritage.

And all this, let's say, takes place in a world where the "puppeteers" are essentially free from any responsibility. Without taking away the fact that the death penalty in Italy no longer exists, but death by penalty continues to exist. That is, all the hundreds of people who die every year in their own prisons, because they committed suicide, by illness, because they committed suicide, in short for many reasons, and all this means that for the European Court of Human Rights, our prisons are in a state of total illegality, when parameterized to what is written in the Constitution, in the international conventions to which Italy has adhered, starting in particular from the European Convention on Human Rights. "


In this political, social, media and judicial scenario, is there a solution? And if so, what solution can we talk about?

“The solution with respect to the collateralism of newspapers and journalists with respect to prosecutors, I don't know if it will ever be a legislative solution. Frankly, I would not even feel like hoping for it because the freedom to express one's thoughts is another of the sacred freedoms of our Constitution.

It would certainly take a shot from a cultural point of view, also in terms, as it were, of greater professional honesty. A work by journalists with a greater critical sense, compared to investigations by the prosecutors.

And simply, to inform readers well, because the journalists who write about judicial matters in Italy are always the same. It's like Bearzot's soccer lineup, you can read a lineup, they are always the same. Each national newspaper has its two journalists who have privileged relations with the prosecutors, with the Rome prosecutor's office, with the Milan prosecutor's office. Then there are the various local editions and therefore also the relationships with the smaller prosecutors. Here, greater critical sense and less "dependence" on the declinations that the powers of attorney make of certain facts.

To do this you need a straight back, you also need an economic independence that is not always there!

Because then for journalists it means having sources of work. Having relations with a prosecutor's office means having a source of work, so then I go back to the editorial office and have the piece written, but in reality it is the copy-paste perhaps of the ordinance, of the tissue passed by the prosecutor.

So what to say! Surely there have also been attempts at ways, through greater rigor in the rules governing the publication of procedural documents, even now with wiretapping.

But then the journalist from his point of view, when he says "I get the news, if I have it, I have to publish it anyway, because this requires my profession", forgetting that the profession also requires writing according to truth, objectivity and describing the situation for what it is!

It would already be enough not to pass what a power of attorney says as if it were a judicial assessment and to explain well that in reality it is the perspective of a trial party, and that what is acquired in the investigation phase, very often, but very very very very often is miserably destined to collapse during the trial. For those who simply want to go and follow the trial!

If you stop at the first half and pass it off as the end of the film, you don't do a good job, from a professional and ethical point of view I think! "

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