Author and anti-Mafia activist Roberto Saviano, whose Neapolitan mob exposé “Gomorrah” is the basis for the popular HBO Max series of the same title, stood his second trial in three months on Wednesday on charges of defaming a member of Italy’s current right-wing government.
Saviano first appeared in court in November for a defamation lawsuit brought by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni for calling her a “bastard” while blasting her stance on migrants. This time, he is facing a libel suit from League leader and Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini for also calling him a “bastard” while discussing migrants on a RAI TV talk show in December 2020.
On RAI talk show “Piazzapulita,” Saviano blasted Meloni and Salvini, who were then members of the opposition, for their attempts to block migrant rescue boats. Meloni said on the show that Rome should “repatriate migrants and sink the boats that rescued them.”
Saviano was commenting on footage of a sea rescue operation by the Spanish NGO Open Arms, in which a six-month old baby from Guinea died before he could be airlifted to Italy.
“All the bullshit [said about NGOs], sea taxis, cruises [for migrants],” he said. “All I can say is: bastards, how could you? Meloni, Salvini: bastards.”
“I’m proud to be a defendant because I can tell the court that party leaders and ministers cannot dodge the possibility of criticism,” Saviano told the judges on Wednesday Italian news agency ANSA reported.
Saviano, who is also being sued by Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, in this case for calling him a “mediocre journalist and a biographer of Putin,” also pointed out to the court that “three ministers of the same government have decided to sue for [libel] damages a person who dared to criticize them,” according to ANSA.
Saviano’s defamation trial against Salvini was adjourned to June 1, when the League leader will be heard.
Originally published at variety.com