The Left-wing Italian writer and journalist Roberto Saviano has been ordered by a court in Rome to pay €1,000 for insulting the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
Saviano had called Meloni a “bastard” on a live TV show in light of her immigration policies.
The comments were made in 2020, when Meloni was not yet prime minister but was leader of the opposition with the Brothers of Italy party. She was opposing the then government after a child had died due to the sinking of a migrant boat.
Meloni, together with Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League Party, was pushing back against the government and NGOs that, according to her, helped the human smugglers and caused deaths at sea.
Saviano had said: “You’d have likely thought of all the rubbish said about NGOs: ‘sea taxis’, ‘cruises’ [for migrants]. But all I can say is: bastards.
“Meloni, Salvini: bastards, how could you? How was it possible to describe all of that sorrow this way? It’s fair to have a political opinion, but not on the [immigrant] emergency,” he added.
Meloni accused Saviano of being a “serial hater” and took him to court for defamation over his “outspoken, vulgar and aggressive” language.
The €1,000 fine is rather lenient given Meloni had demanded a €75,000 fine. Still, the writer said he would appeal the decision.
Under Italian law, some defamation cases can be criminal and carry a custodial sentence of up to three years in jail.
Meloni also is suing British rock-band Placebo’s lead-singer Brian Molko for defamation after he allegedly insulted her during a concert in Turin.
After his sentencing, Saviano said on Instagram Live: “I’m not ashamed, I repeat everything.” He added that Meloni should be “ashamed” for her language in opposing migration.
“At the end of this story, the harassment is not only for me but also through me.”
Saviano is best known for his 2006 book Gomorrah, which deals with the Mafia’s operations and methods. In 2013, he was sentenced for plagiarism.
He is also under police protection, as he has made public the inner workings of the Napolitan Mafia in his publications.
Nel 2020 avevo definito “bastardi” i politici che avevano messo in dubbio la necessità di salvare vite in mare. Meloni mi ha portato a processo e ieri c’è stata la sentenza di primo grado.
Taxi del mare, blocchi navali, sostituzione etnica, invasione: il processo è servito per… pic.twitter.com/nSLpKsGysR
— Roberto Saviano (@robertosaviano) October 13, 2023