I beg you to excuse me for reading my speech, but since I do not know English, it had to be translated.
Today is an important day for you, but it is also an important day for us, or rather, for all of us. When, on the 26thJune, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe ordered the Maltese Government to hold an independent public inquiry to find out the truth about the car bomb that killed Daphne, we too in Italy, sprang to action. I myself, and Paolo Borrometi, another journalist who like me, is placed under police escort and who, like me, is threatened by heads of organised crime, launched a public petition on the site “chance.org” to ask the Maltese Government to create an independent commission of inquiry. In a matter of weeks, 42,000 people had signed the petition.
You are not the only ones who want to know why Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered. We too, want to know why. We journalists and public opinion, because if you are less free, we too, are less free.
Among the fundamental articles of the Italian Constitution, there is one that directly concerns the freedom of providing information. It is the article 21, and it goes like this: “everyone has the right to express their thoughts freely, in speech, in writing and through all means of dissemination.” It is our duty to inform correctly, but it is your right, as citizens, to be correctly informed. And when a journalist is threatened, when a journalist is killed for his or her work, democracy is attacked. Without freedom of information, there is no democracy. This is why demanding to know the truth about the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, demanding justice, seeing the killers and the masterminds of the car bomb that exploded on the 16 October two years ago brought before the courts, these demands see us take action first-hand.
My country is one where the mafia and terrorism have killed eleven journalists, apart from those who were killed in theatres of war. But hundreds of us are threatened. Just think, in the first 211 days of 2019, the observatory “Ossigeno” [Oxygen] for the information of the National Press Federation listed 172 journalists and bloggers who are intimidated and threatened. Of course, not all have been threatened by the mafias. Twenty-two of us are protected by the state and live under armed police escort. I myself have been under police escort since the 4thMay 2015, for a total of 1596 days. Other journalists and writers have been deprived of their personal liberty for a very long time. But thanks to the protection given to us by the state, we are free. We can express our thoughts publicly, we can work.
Although I live in Rome, I am originally from Campania, I was born in Naples. The death threat I received was from my own town. Naples is the city where on the 23rdSeptember 1985, Giancarlo Siani, a journalist of the daily Neapolitan newspaper “Il Mattino”, was murdered. It is the city, the region where organised crime is called “Camorra”, and just like the Sicilian Mafia, it tries to impose its power with threats and intimidation. In Italy, the Mafias existed before the creation of the unified Italian nation, before 1861. Why do they still exist today? Why, from the south of the country, have they taken root in the rich centre North? Because they have linked up with the centres of power. The fight against the mafias is first and foremost, a fight to defend our Constitution. Wherever the mafia exists, no rights exist, wherever the mafia exists, there is no social or economic development. The mafia earns more than 100 billion euros a year, and this, apart from evading taxes. Certain agencies estimate their earnings at 7% of the GNP.
One of the biggest sources of wealth for the camorra is waste management and the illegal disposal of waste. In one of my television investigations, I had asked, I had posed a question to a collaborating witness, if he knew of any relations between persons of the Intelligence Service and the head of one of the most powerful clans of the camorra, closely resembling Cosa Nostra, that aimed at solving the waste disposal emergency in Campania. That boss, Michele Zagaria, who belonged to the Casalesi clan, decided to make me pay for my question. He would like to see me quartered alive.
So, you see, one of the aspects of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder that I cannot tolerate is that she had received threats and she feared for her life. And she had asked the State to help her, in vain. When a journalist dies, a whole chunk of democracy dies. We are here, gathered together, while the Council of Europe’s ultimatum for the appointment of an independent Commission of inquiry is about to expire. I too, and I think I speak on behalf of all Italian journalists, appeal to the Government of Malta. You need to know the truth about Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, and we need answers. We all suspect that Daphne’s investigations had reached the centres of power. Like in Brecht’s play, the Caucasian Chalk Circle, we need another Berlin judge to materialise from somewhere. We need justice that is just and impartial.