La Voce di Trieste

Trieste: the “System” of corruption attacks Prosecutor Mastelloni

Analysis by Paolo G. Parovel (published in Italian on February 1st 2015)

Our newspaper is in contrast with Italian institutions as for the jurisdiction – trusteeship, not sovereignty – over the Free Territory and Free Port of Trieste. But this newspaper does also stand in defense of legality when it comes to the battles against corruption and mafias.

Therefore, if the local system of corruption and press attack an Italian Prosecutor who does his duty, we denounce the corrupted “system” and defend the courageous magistrate.

1. A Prosecutor without any compromise

Since April 2014, in Trieste, Carlo Mastelloni took office as Chief Prosecutor; he is a well-known Italian magistrate for successfully leading difficult and dangerous investigations on terrorism, subversion and the deviations of secret services.

Investigating the “Argo 16” case, he did also investigate on covered up structures, which did then deviate the trial, and which did also include transversal networks of the corrupted power in Trieste.

This is why the arrival of Mastelloni in Trieste has alarmed said networks, which had been protected until that moment by forcing Italian magistracy to regard these as untouchable by favoring magistrates, detectives and journalists who were their “friends” or accomplishing and by isolating these who resisted to this system and tried to clear the air.

This is the reason why, to this moment, in Trieste it is impossible even getting rid of the biggest, most evident forms of corruption, like tenders, illegal building and dumping sites, or why even a massive fraud against the international Free Port and against the States holding rights on that proceeds undisturbed (read more here).

The newspaper that covers and spreads the propaganda of this “system” has always been Il Piccolo, which therefore benefits of many privileges, including the routine – illegal, yet, unpunished – use of reserved information concerning the investigations of the Prosecution Office.

2. The first reactions of the “system”

At first, the local “system” tried to avoid the appointment to office of Mr. Mastelloni, then it tried to delay his taking office and, at the end, to isolate him and, at the same time, to offer as much space as possible on the press to the investigations of a deputy prosecutor that is in Trieste since decades and whose investigations are also the main source of secret information published on Il Piccolo.

We have already had to inform both our readers and the competent Court, the Prosecution Office of Bologna, about both the leaks of news and the fact that that Public Prosecutor attempts to prevent the Free Trieste Movement from effectively defending the Free Territory of Trieste and its International Free (at this link you can read the latest analysis on this matter).

3. The violated Directive of the Chief Prosecutor

On August 10th, 2014, Chief Prosecutor Mastelloni has sent a written note to inform that the «series of leaks of news» classified as secret and concerning investigations had to cease, since «the person under investigation is sacred and has to be protected as much as the confidentiality of investigations», making it clear that «only the Chief Prosecutor can pass news to the press» and he does it through official media, also, he cannot endorse illegal actions.

Il Piccolo published this directive as well. But he kept publishing secret news on the investigations, which his suppliers kept providing to its journalists, since the local “system” has always been used to make fun of the Prosecutor on duty. But that didn’t work this time.

4. The notices of investigation of the Prosecutor

At the end of the investigations, carried on by the Guardia di Finanza (Italian Financial Police) together with another Public Prosecutor (Mr. Miggiani) the Chief Prosecutor issued notices of investigation to a judicial reporter of Il Piccolo and to two investigators: a capitano of the Carabinieri and a deputy-quaestor of the State Police, contesting the responsibility for four cases of leaked news and their publication on newspaper Il Piccolo.

In facts, establishing responsibilities of the three people under investigation falls under the competences of the magistrates in Trieste, while as for the alleged, shared responsibility of local magistrates, that falls under the competence of the Prosecution Office of Bologna, where previous, documented formal notices – concerning this and other matters, some of these presented by ourselves – are being evaluated.

As far as we know, the alleged offence investigated by the Prosecution Office of Trieste would be the abuse of official acts when it comes to the detectives, and the complicity in this crime when it coms to the journalist (see Articles 326 and 110 of the Italian Criminal Code), but this proceeding might as well involve also the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper. Currently, evaluating the facts and the criminal responsibilities of the people is up to the judges, and we must wait for the judgment to find out more.

Yet, since long and also as for other proceeding, it is notorious and well- documented that Il Piccolo publishes reserved information about investigations on a regular bases, that, by doing so, it has caused unfair damages to citizens, companies and institutions, driving people into desperation and, some of them, up to suicide (in both Trieste and Monfalcone).

5. The “system” of corruption attacks the Chief Prosecutor with false accusations

As for general interest, the most interesting aspect of this matter is no longer the leak and systematic publication of reserved information, but a new, more alarming and meaningful fact.

This fact is that Il Piccolo, instead of silently handing over one more notice of investigation, to its lawyers, did immediately use it to unleash a very violent, public attack against the Chief Prosecutor, on personal bases in and in disproportioned way – to the point of making up false accusations against him – only to justify his removal from office for political reasons.

Because the true reason behind this attack is not the existence – or not – of the right to publish classified information concerning investigations, but the fact that Mr. Mastelloni is the first Chief Prosecutor who shows the real courage to break the situation of consolidated illegality that affect Trieste and which is the foundation of the local “system” of corruption.

Yet, this means that the “system” of corruption considers itself strong, powerful and motivated (keep in mind the EUR 1,5 billions of the fraud against the Free Port) enough to move a public attack to have a Chef Prosecutor removed by making up false accusations.

This is why the newspaper’s attack against the Chief Prosecutor confirms the existence of this system of corruption as well as providing new evidences to identify its active and passive networks.

This is why we will analyze the structure of this attack, yet, to understand how reckless these false accusations against the Chief Prosecutor are, it is important providing some preliminary, juridical inflation about the alleged crimes.

6. The legal and journalistic problem of confidentiality of investigations

First of all, it is important understanding that the confidentiality of preliminary investigations if not censorship, but a necessary condition to prevent the defiling of investigations or that the investigated person suffers an unfair damage due to an abuse in the freedom of press.

Because there is no such thing as an absolute right to information, since the exercise of collective rights is legitimate as long as it does also respect the fundamental rights of the individual, and this is why even the Code of Ethics of Italian Press forbids to violate the latest.

Italian criminal legislation rules that news and acts concerning preliminary investigations must remain confidential. Violating the classified status is a criminal offence, and it is not only the public officer who provides that to be prosecutable, but also whoever receives, uses and publishes the information.

The classified status is established under Article 329, sub-paragraph 1, of the Criminal Code: «Obligation of secrecy – 1. The investigation acts conduced by the public prosecutor and the criminal police are covered by the obligation of secrecy until the investigated person can be informed on that and, anyways, until preliminary investigations end.» and, in order to publish of any of these acts notwithstanding this legislation, it is necessary having a motived Decree of the Public (art. 329, n. 2).

As for publication, the prohibition is much stricter and it is established at Article 114, sub-paragraphs 1 and 2 and following of the Italian Code of Criminal Procedure: «Prohibition to publish acts and images – 1. It is prohibited publishing – also partially or in a summary – either in a printed media or with any other media, acts under an obligation of secrecy or information about their contents. 2. It is prohibited publishing, even partially, acts which are no longer secret as long as preliminary investigations are concluded, meaning, until the end of the preliminary hearing

The magistrate, detective, functionary or employee who violates these norms is charged with (besides a disciplinary offence: art. 115 Code of Criminal Procedure) with the principal offence of «Revealing and using secrets of office:the public officer or the person entrusted with a public service who, violating the duties coming from their functions or service – or, even, abusing of their role – reveals information of office that shall remain classified, or makes it easier, by any means, that others become aware of these, is punished with six months to three years of imprisonment. If the action is a consequence of mere negligence, the punishment is up to one year of imprisonment.» (Article 326, first and second sub-paragraph of the Criminal Code).

If the fact happens occasionally, the responsibilities of the journalist and of the Editor-in-Chief are defined under Article 110 of the Criminal Code, Punishment for the people taking part in the crime When more people take part in the same crime, each of them is punished under the law on that criminal offence, the only exceptions being the provisions of the following articles. (See: Article 112 – Aggravating circumstances; Article 114 – Attenuating circumstances). Yet, if the fact happens on a regular bases, in an organized and planned form, they can be charged with criminal organization (art. 416 of the Italian Criminal Code).

The Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper is criminally responsible for unsigned articles as well as for not checking signed articles, unless being able to proof either to have been deceived by the journalist, who tricked them into believing these were not secret news or information, or that not even a professional, methodic examination allowed to recognize the real status of said texts or images.

The malice of the parts consists in the fact that a public officer gives the acts of an investigation – or information on their content – to a person known to be a journalist who, as such, receives said material in order to publish that, as well as in the fact that neither the journalist nor the Editor-in-Chi can be unaware of the legal and professional rules about the classified status and the prohibition to publish acts and news on preliminary investigations.

So, in order to find out weather the people currently under investigation committed the alleged crimes, there is nothing to do but waiting for the end of the trial, but these simple legal information is enough to proof two essential facts.

First of all, that the journalist and Editor-in-Chief who violate the confidentiality of investigations commit a crime is responsible for that both before the law and toward the harmed person, also, they cannot demand impunity and solidarity by claiming an absolute right to information, as that does not exist;

Second, that the accusations against Chief Prosecutor Mastelloni, published by the newspaper, are false, the authors cannot be unaware of that and they are consciously attempting to deceive public opinion and decision-makers.

7. Structure and contents of the attack of the press against the Chief Prosecutor

The attack against the Chief Prosecutor is both active and passive, since the false, violent accusations against him, published on the newspaper came along with the absolute silence of politicians, public administrators and of the representatives of the institutions, which should have the duty to recognize and defend legality.

The fact of remaining silent, instead of standing in defense of the attacked Chief Prosecutor is rather significant and as much threatening as the reckless attack of the newspaper, and the two facts together outline an environmental situation which is typical of environments subject to the control of mafia-like criminal organizations.

The newspaper attacked violently the Chef Prosecutor for two days, Thursday, January 29th and Friday, January 30th, following a schema made of false accusation in order to criminalize him and discharging the persons investigated. Then it quit this siege, waiting for its effects.

The attack consisted in the repetition of the same frame of accusations, by combining news articles and intervention of the Editor-in-Chief, the editorial board and leaders of syndicates, as well as the – apparently – authoritative opinions of an anonymous detective, a former Italian minister of justice and a law professor.

The analysis of this schema of attack identifies its 8 main, converging lines:

a) simulating an institutional conflict: the incrimination of the journalist and of the two detectives is falsely presented as an attack of the Chief Prosecutor against the Carabinieri and the Police, both in the head title «Prosecution Office rushes against police and carabinieri» and in actual text: «a front clash between Prosecution Office and police» // «it seems like an attempt to shout the mouth to both the press and the police» // «I don’t think that investigating a reporter and two officers of bot the carabinieri and of good institutional relations.».

b) simulating the incompatibility of the Chief Prosecutor and the Prosecution Office: pretending that there is hostility between the employees of the Prosecution office against Mr. Mastelloni, with titles: «The intrusiveness of the Chief Prosecutor – bad mood spreads in the offices and among the employees» and writing about: «a desire for censorship and tight control» // «also, in the past months there was a leak about quite several tensions in the Prosecution Office, even among administrative employees, who cannot stand this tense situation» (yet, La Voce was informed that the employees appreciate the new Chief Prosecutor).

c)simulating the irrelevance of the crimes: the relevance of the crimes and the obligation to prosecute these are falsely denied with arguments sounding like advocations to the crime (Article 414, sub-paragraph III, Criminal Code):«Did anyone reveal secret papers on some massacre? Or plans for terroristic attacks? About alleged commissions or infiltrates of the Mafia? Not at all, it’s just trash.» // «facts not even that are subject to penal sanctions» // «mandatory criminal prosecution is among the several shadows of Italian legal formalism. To be enforced every other day or according to the weather.» // «In facts, that sure is unrealistic obligation, because it will never happen and, due to this, it is obscured with hypocrisy. Obligation is nothing but a word» // «Criminal prosecution at all costs, without taking into proper account these and other reasons, which are voiced – in firs instance – by common sense, means disobeying to teachings we inherited from an age-old wisdom» // «The case in question, from whatever perspective, does not make any sense, because the most basic, concrete logics shows how implausible that is. It seems a waste of time, time subtracted to investigations on something else» // «Democracy is challenged by a delinquency which has the shape of a system of counter-power, not by the violation of the secret of office on matters which are normal as for judicial reports» // «the “leaks of information” belong to the very structure and physiology of the magistracy-press relations. How many magistrates, for instance, public prosecutors, did never have to do with the media, which, by itself, is part of the Constitutional right to public information and of the transparency policy of public administrations? As Mozart would sayThus Do They All (prosecution offices).»

d) simulation of unjustified expenses and inefficiencies: the advocation of these crimes is also used to falsely accuse the Chief Prosecutor to be wasting public money and of inefficiency: «A massive effort when it comes to public expenses and men put at work for a minimal investigation, which lead to poor results and, despite that, will cause massive damages» // «but the Chief Prosecutor wanted to teach someone a lesson» // «Maybe, such a argus-eyed activism, such use of public money in phone-tapping and tailing would be easier to understand if the Prosecution Office were actually leading highly sensitive investigations on massacres, terrorism, the bonds between politics and organized criminality.» // «before even thinking of shouting the mouth to press, the Prosecution Office should explain to the citizens why did most of the investigations in Trieste lead to no results and, for instance, how much public money was spent on that ».

e) simulation of the non-existence of the crimes committed by the journalist (and by the Editor-in-Chief): the interview to the former Italian Minister of Justice (G.M. Flick), labeled “super partes”, is actually used to make people believe that, since the criminal offence of abuse of office can only be committed by public officers «a third person, including the journalist, can take part to that only if it is actually possible demonstrating that said journalist did actually instigate that public officer to have the news revealed. To have a better understanding of that: publication does not constitute a crime, as that is post factum. A private citizen can only take part in the crime if, under Article 110 of the Criminal Code, they instigate the public officer to talk, either supporting or arising in that the will to spread said news.» // «As for this subject, it is important evaluating carefully the behavior of instigation. The journalist who asks “anything new?” for example, are they instigating? Yes, there is this bad habit of revealing things, but publishing these is not a crime, under Article 326.»

But the thesis that are attributed to the former Minster are false since, as we mentioned above, at point 6, the provisions of Article 110 of the Criminal Code do not state that it takes instigation to regard to a journalist as taking part in the crime, since that is not simply a consequence of the fact and of the reasons of said participation, as that consists in the purpose and act of publication, which is clearly forbidden under Article 114 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

f) simulation of an attack against freedom of press: the false thesis of the nonexistence of the responsibility of the journalist (and of the Editor-in-Chief) is used to falsely claim that the Chief Prosecutor is violating freedom of information: «The Chief of the Prosecution Office of Trieste, Carlo Mastelloni, believes ad evidentiam that newspapers – and, along with them public opinion – are systematically kept in the dark of any investigation.» // «Once upon a time, there was freedom of press.» // «the severe attack of the Prosecutor against the press» // «The syndicate: this prosecutor wants to be a reporter» // «It’s raining notices of investigation in Trieste, only to subject the news on judicial actions to strict controls» // «Prosecutor Carlo Mastelloni decided that the citizens shall be informed about investigations, reports, arrests, only when and how he wants to and, therefore, he is acting to archive that» // «Actions, these of Mastelloni, that go as far as phone-tapping and tailing in order to prevent the citizens from receiving correct and complete information promptly» // «At the moment, in Trieste, a Prosecutor is attempting to shout the mouth to the judicial reports on the local newspaper.»

The parts of the attack then undersigned by syndicates and by the Editorial Board were also published on the website of the National Federation of Italian Press (FNSI-Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana: link), and it was claimed that these statements were also supported by the Professional Order of Journalists (Ordine dei Giornalisti). Yet, at the moment we don’t know weather that is true or not.

g) glorification of the investigated journalist: said false premises were then powered up by presenting like a merit what actually is a violation of legality, and portraying the investigated journalist as a hero: «the proceeding against the reporter is abnormal» // «one more medal on his chest» // «All of this is nothing but the information he learned by fulfilling, with effort and good care, nothing but his duty and that he did, rightfully, allowed citizens to know» // «investigating a colleague for being true to his duty of reporter, at the service of the readers, represents an offence to the Constitution in first place, but to all journalists as well» // «misterprosecutor rules to restrict the basic freedom of a reporter – how did nothing but his own job.»

h)threaten to the Chef Prosecutor:the whole, aggressive artifice culminates in a severe and detailed threaten, which concluded the leader article of the Editor-in-Chief past January 29th, possibly dark to unaware people, but very clear to the persons these are addressed to.

The Editor-in-Chief warns, under the title «Magistracy, press and the shade of solitude», stating « I don’t think that investigating a reporter and two officers of the carabinieri and of the Prosecution Office is part of good institutional relations. If mister Prosecutor decides to phone-tap and tail the Police and the Fiscal Police and his own colleagues, he might discover more useful material for his fundamental a high-priority investigation. Yet, he might feel lonely in the end.»

To make it clear, the warning means that if the Chief Prosecutor insists in his – legitimate and correct – effort to have laws enforced without compromises with the local “system” of power, investigations might also lead to the discovery the responsibilities of investigators from other Police Forces, or these of Public Prosecutors, and all of these would react by isolating him in his own Prosecution Office: so, he’d better slow down and then adjust himself to meet the wished of the local “system”.

The day after, the newspaper had even chosen as feature image of the second attack a big photo of Public Prosecutor Frezza with the Chief Prosecutor on the background, along with two detectives.

8. The seriousness of the attack and of the whole situation.

The seriousness of the attack is clear, because it confirms, once again, that in Trieste there is situation of consolidated illegality, which transverses and conditions even the press and the institutions (violating Law 17/1982 on covered, transversal powers), and that it does also want to isolate the new Chief Prosecutor, whom, for much loyal and skilled, can efficiently face it only if he receives the support of a task force constituted of a new, professional staff.

The fact that, behind the facade of calm normality, Trieste is parasitized by a local, power system of corruption – related to that of Italy – and the fact that this “system” is protected with special impunity as well as the true owner of “Piccolo”, represents the typical secret of the naked king who everybody – either to get an advantage or out of fear – pretends to see him well-dressed.

Except “La Voce di Trieste”, the only media investigating and denouncing to public opinion and to the authorities this situation, and Roberto Giurastante who, likely to Saviano in Italy, has published his investigations in an extraordinary investigative book, “Tracks of Legality”.

This is why our readers know very well that the parasitic net of corruption – revealed and denounced here in Trieste, does extend to the politics and public institutions as well as to private economy, showing Mafia-like connections similar to the many other which were discovered in Northern Italy.

But the readers of Il Piccolo don’t know that, and the newspaper is used by that network of connections in order to hide or manipulate news about the local “untouchables” (read here – in Italian – about the “Dipiazza” case), for their advantage and to promote their propaganda (like their praise to the fraud against the Northern Free Port) and to furiously attack whoever tries to stop them: either a courageous Chief Prosecutor or a skilled President of the Port Authority, a strict Superintendent, or ourselves, for censoring relevant anti-mafia questions on this matter (find out more here).

And it is the same newspaper that, once discovered for what it is, plays victim and cries, threatens and pretends to hide very serious crimes with misleading chatting, false accusations and deceptive lessons of freedom of press.

9. Urgent remedies

Here in Trieste, we might also have conflicting opinions as for sovereignty and so (which is not unimportant). Yet, everybody should understand that in order to revive both the city and the port it is necessary and urgent to free these firmly but with a strong effort from the corrupted and inefficient system of power which parasites them, as well as from the monopoly of press which acts the weapon of this system.

We are already working on it, and this is why we are constantly under attack: whoever can, please hurry up and help. And however has a good conscience should at least express solidarity to Chief Prosecutor Mastelloni.

© 2 Maggio 2015

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Testata giornalistica registrata presso il Tribunale di Trieste - n.1232, 18.1.2011
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