Bocconi professor's efforts to muddy waters at Insider libel trial fall flat

The Bocconi university in Milan

 ROME – A professor at the Bocconi University sueing Italian Insider’s chief editor and Fatto Quotidiano newspaper for alleged defamation in articles about his alleged links to Calabrian crime gangs claimed erroneously in court that the Insider had published the original article to which he objected when the truth was the other way around, the Rome Tribunal heard.

 Vicenzo Morabito, who is demanding as much as 130,000 euros in damages from editor John Phillips for a 2019 article based on an earlier Fatto Quotidiano article, sought unsuccessfully to muddy the waters under cross examination by Phillips’ lawyer Manrico Andreozzi last week. Avv. Andreozzi was able to demonstrate conclusively that the original report about the colourful academic was in the Fatto Quotidiano.

 Morabito strongly denies any links to organised crime and also has brought a defamation suit in Milan against Fatto Quotidiano for the original report, though he is not seeking civil damages from Il Fatto. He told the court he had stopped short of asking for civil damages from Il Fatto because he had feared that he would only have fuelled more articles had he done so.

 He nevertheless claimed it was an outrage that the Insider Sept. 23 had published a report on his attempt to be awarded 130,000 euros by the Insider.

 When Italian Insider published the pickup of the Fatto article, lawyers acting for Morabito demanded changes to the article which the Insider carried out.  Italian Insider strongly denies any intention to defame Morabito.

 Previously sentenced to a year and a half in prison by the Reggio Calabria Tribunal on account of extortion as a member of a crime gang (not Mafia) in his youth in 1993, Vincenzo Morabito, had his sentence wiped from his record as part of a plea bargain. 

 An associate professor in Bocconi’s Management and Technology department, Morabito was reported by Il Fatto to have run a successful real estate and renovation business on the side of his academic commitments with the help of a building society whose lawyer is the nephew of a local Mafia’s boss.

 Morabito appeared on the police’s radar when his name arose in connection with Bruno Romeo, a  Calabrian whose uncle Giosofatto Molluso is the ‘Ndrangheta’s leader in the area. It transpired that Romeo was employed as the lawyer for Morabito’s real estate projects in 2011, around the same time Morabito’s income began to soar. Earning 99,000 euros a year at the time, Morabito’s yearly earnings had risen to 421,000 four years later.

 Further scrutiny revealed that La Hermes, one of Morabito’s company holdings, alone owns 25 properties in affluent areas of Milan, Rome, and Florence alike.

 Morabito has defended himself by claiming that the Bruno Romeo who he worked with was simply a namesake of the known mafia member. His justification, however, seemed to come unstuck when it was revealed that the Romeo he worked with had the same date of birth as the Romeo he was trying to distance himself from: May 22, 1975.

 The trial of Phillips was adjourned until the next hearing to be held in November.