Two journalists convicted of libel in 2015 Crocetta wiretap case

Journalists Messina and Zoppi convicted of libel.

ROME – Two journalists have been convicted of libel because of their role in the false wiretap that implicated former Sicilian governor Rosario Crocetta of serious criminal intent, police said on Thursday. The case began in 2015, when it was falsely reported that there was a conversation between governor Crocetta and the regional health councilor Lucia Borsellino where Crocetta allegedly said about a mafia-murdered judge’s daughter, “she should be taken out like her father.” The entire story was later found to be falsified.

 Crocetta was seen as a crucial figure in fighting the Sicilian mafia, so the news of the story in 2015 was a shocking scandal that made Crocetta look as if he was secretly on the “Cosa Nostra’s” side. The scandal quickly led to his regretful resignation. 

 The criminal court of Palermo has convicted two journalists, Piero Messina and Maurizio Zoppi, who worked for L’Espresso weekly magazine and reported on the made-up phone tap, and they have been sentenced to one year and four months suspended imprisonment each. The punishment was knocked down from an originally proposed three years.

 During the investigation in 2015, Messina had insisted that he had heard the fake tape in several different venues, however his story changed throughout the case. Messina also claimed that it was a Carabiniere officer who showed him the tape, which earned him a Carabinieri slander charge in the current sentencing in addition to the libel one.

 On Thursday, it was preannounced by the defense of Messina and Zoppi that they will appeal the sentencing. The two have also been sentenced to pay an enforceable provisional award of 10,000 euros.