Italian journo stands trial over Meloni suit

ROME, Italy (AFP) — Italian anti-mafia journalist Roberto Saviano stands trial next week on defamation charges brought by Giorgia Meloni, now Italy’s prime minister, for a 2020 outburst criticizing her stance on migrants.

Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy was at the time a small opposition party, but took office last month after a sweeping election victory driven in part by its promise to stop the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean.

Saviano, who is best known for his international mafia bestseller “Gomorrah,” faces up to three years in prison if convicted in the trial, which opens on Tuesday.

The case dates back to December 2020 when Saviano was asked on political TV chat show “Piazzapulita” for a comment on the death of a six-month-old baby from Guinea in a shipwreck.

He pointed a finger at Meloni and Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigrant League party, which is now part of her coalition government.

Meloni said in 2019 that charity vessels which rescue migrants “should be sunk,” while Salvini, as interior minister that same year, blocked the vessels from docking.

“I just want to say to Meloni, and Salvini, you bastards! How could you?” Saviano said on the show.

Meloni sued, as did Salvini, whose separate case is expected to go to trial in February.

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