giovedì 5 giugno 2014

Appeals court upholds Saviano conviction for libel

Statements in anti-mafia bestseller Gomorrah deemed 'defamatory'

(ANSA) - Milan, June 4 - A civil appeals court in Milan on Wednesday upheld the libel conviction of famed anti-mafia writer Roberto Saviano for defamatory statements in his runaway bestseller Gomorrah, about the Casalesi clan of the Neapolitan Camorra mafia.

The appeals court confirmed the November ruling of a lower court that Saviano must pay 30,000 euros in damages to Enzo Boccolato for insinuating involvement in the La Torre clan. "The statements contained in the book are objectively offensive, and the veracity of the news was not proven, in the evocative way that emerges from the sentences of the published text," the ruling read. The offending text on page 291 of the book flanks statements made by a justice informant with "the author's considerations about Boccolato's involvement in illegal activities of the La Torre clan," the ruling said. The court is also holding the book's publisher, Mondadori, accountable. A petition made by Boccolato's lawyers for one million euros in damages, however, was rejected.

Boccolato's defense lawyers Alessandro Santoro, Sandra Salvigni and Daniela Mirabile claimed Boccolato deserves additional damages in recognition of the fact that "Saviano and Mondadori, heedless of the two sentences that have already occurred, reiterate the defamation of Mr. Vincenzo Boccolato through the continued reprinting of the celebrated book Gomorrah without providing the cancellation of the sentences 'established as defamatory' and without even citing the libel conviction in reprints". The lawyers said their client has lived for years in Venezuela, "has no criminal record and above all is extraneous to any Camorra activity". Roberto Saviano said in February his acclaimed book that lifted the lid on the Neapolitan Camorra mafia had not been worth it because of death threats that have forced him into hiding and led him to fear for his sanity.

Saviano, who has been in round-the-clock police protection since Gomorrah came out in 2006, told Spanish daily El Pais the sensational bestselling expose' that focused on the then little-known and particularly ferocious Casalesi clan "ruined my life" and he regretted the "ambition" that made him write it. The 34-year-old Naples-born writer said he could have revealed the inner workings of the Camorra's empire "with the same commitment and courage but with prudence, without destroying everything". "I was too impetuous, too ambitious," Saviano told El Pais. 

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