Anti-mafia journalist ‘proud’ to be on trial accused of defaming Matteo Salvini – POLITICO

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Italian anti-mafia journalist Roberto Saviano appeared in court Wednesday and said he was “proud” to be going on trial accused of defamation after calling Matteo Salvini the “minister of the criminal underworld” in a social media post.

“I am proud to be accused in this trial because I am given the opportunity to testify to the court that I do not want to allow party leaders and ministers to shield the possibility of criticism,” Saviano said in a Rome courtroom on the first day of the trial.

In the social media post, dating from 2018, Saviano accused Salvini — now the infrastructure and transport minister and at the time the interior minister — of failing to denounce the powerful ‘Ndrangheta mafia syndicate and exploiting far-right narratives on seasonal migrants instead.

The next hearing is set for June 1 and Salvini is due to appear in court.

In November, Saviano faced another trial for calling Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her deputy Salvini “bastards” because of their attitude toward vulnerable migrants.

Saviano is also being sued by Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano for calling him a “mediocre journalist and a biographer of Putin.”

All of the cases are ongoing.

“These three ministers of the same government have decided to sue for damages a person who has dared to criticize them,” Saviano said during Wednesday’s hearing. He faces up to three years in prison per trial if convicted.

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