There are two ways to kill a person: one is physical elimination, the other is isolation. Giovanni Falcone always repeated it. With him, both things were used. Two deadly weapons, against magistrates who do their duty of ascertaining the truth, as well as against journalists who exercise fully their duty-right to expose, denounce, and inform about true facts. Isolation, defamation, and social de-legitimization, is the most frequent one. When it is not enough, violence is used.
“When I woke up miraculously alive at the hospital, on April 16, 2014, I thought that even if my conscience had recommended me to work as a lawyer again, giving in to disengagement, I would not have had anything to reproach it with”, Paolo Borrometi says. Journalist of the Agenzia Giornalistica Italia (AGI) and director of the online newspaper La Spia, he has received numerous awards for his civil commitment. He conducted important investigative journalism on the criminal activities of the Sicilian Mafia and the Calabrese ‘Ndrangheta. One of those investigations led to the dissolution of the town of Scicli, in the province of Ragusa, for Mafia infiltration. It is the town of the police chief Montalbano, narrated by Andrea Camilleri. Violence, however, is not literature. On that spring day in 2014, Borrometi was beaten up for having talked about shady affairs of drug dealing and racketeering. Real, documented, not fiction. Real gangs, guided by cleaners, with the complicity of the politicians and that of the local administrators. A concrete and profitable drugs, cigarettes, and gas business. Yet they passed him of as a crazy man, as a visionary, until the judiciary has not ascertained and pursued those responsible. Together with seven members, from North to South (Federica Angels, Giuseppe Baldessarro, Arnaldo Capezzuto, Esther Castano, Marilù Mastrogiovanni, David Odo, Roberta Pola), Borrometi has contributed to the volume of different newspapers, “I will not stay silent” (CentoAutori Editions,15 euro).
He remembers the thirty seconds which have changed his life. Since that day, he has been living under escort and one of his shoulders has a 30 percent invalidity. “Two men materialized behind my back. Two silhouettes dressed in black whose faces were hidden”. They beat him up. “Have you got it now? Mind your own fu*kin’ business! Got it?”. The journalist had to mind his own business if he wanted to avoid retaliation and “punishment”. But he did not. His task is exactly to mind his own business. An arduous task, that of the “ombudsman” of truth. And dangerous. Very dangerous.
According to the data provided by “Reporters without Borders”, 110 journalists were killed in 2015. Almost two thirds of whom were killed in countries that are “at peace”, simply for having done properly and competently their job. 154 journalists are in prison for the same reason, 54 have been kidnapped. Some of them are held hostage in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Libya. In countries at war. But there is a silent war going on also in our States which are considered to be civil. The protagonists are common criminals or organized and corrupt politicians. On the other side of the fence, where the law lives, there are the reporters, with pens and computers.
For the observatory of the National Federation of the Italian press, 521 Italian reporters, photographers, bloggers and video-operators have suffered threats and intimidations for having published news based on facts in 2015. During the month of December alone, Alessia Citron, a reporter of the “Corriere della Calabria”, and Michele Inserra, editor-in-chief of the “Qotidiano della Calabria”, have been threatened with death and live protected by the forces of order.
Prevaricating and violent crime does not exist only in the south. ‘Ndrangheta, for instance, is rooted especially in the north, in Milan, the “city to drink”, as an old advertising recited. To drink slowly, for someone, as poison which kills the healthy tissue of society. Among the tools of intimidation, the most widespread is lawsuit. Along with the “white” weapon of defamation, social discredit. They ask for compensations worth millions to induce the journalist to step back. Or they pass him off as a crazy man among his friends and in the public opinion. A slap in the face of freedom of information protected by the Constitution. If moral bruising is not enough, physical violence begins. As it happened to Paolo Borrometi. He always moves in the company of his guardian “Angels”, his “lads”, his “friends”, two military men in plain clothes who do never leave him, but he would be happy to do without them.
Kicks, punches, and death threats do not kill the passion for truth of those who merely do their jobs: inform themselves and inform the others. In Paolo Borrometi as in his numerous courageous colleagues, everyday heroes, who think that “a dream is difficult to destroy”. And they continue to dream. Dream about waking up in the morning, looking in the mirror and saying: “Yes, it was worth it”.