June 30, 2008

Justice was done

One of the most important inquiries done by Milan’s preliminary judge—roughly equivalent to a District Attorney in the U.S.—Clementina Forleo was that involving the purchase of Banca Antoniana Popolare Veneta (known as Antonveneta) in the so-called Bancopoli scandal. She discovered the existence of audio tapes of telephone calls between Democratic Party luminaries such as Massimo D'Alema and Piero Fassino and two businessmen (Stefano Ricucci and Gianpiero Fiorani) who had become extremely rich in about only 10 years buying and selling very expensive and extravagant luxury real estate properties, with earnings around 100% to 300% over a reasonable market price.

With her ordinance of July 20 2007, namely by requesting the authorisation of Italy's Lower House to use wire-taps and by defining the politicians in question as “knowing accomplices of a criminal plot of great scope,” she made exactly what any competent and honest judge would have done in her place. But according to General Cassation Prosecutor Federico Sorrentino, which last Friday—before the disciplinary section of the Csm (Superior Council of Judiciary)—called for Forleo to be censured, and as a supplementary punishment, her transfer to another office, the Milanese investigating magistrate had violated “the obligation of impartiality, correctness and balance” by using in her ordinance “disparaging and suggestive accentuations” in an “unusual and unsolicited pre-emptive ruling.”

Why such an “official” hatred towards Clementina, while the crowd of magistrates who had done the same—and even worse—towards Berlusconi and other center-right politicians have never been prosecuted by any Cassation Court? Well, perhaps because “the obligation of impartiality, correctness and balance” is a concept to be intended, so to say, ad usum delphini? Or because, as Berlusconi would put it, “they are a bunch of Communists?”

But what was absolutely unpredictable has happened: the Supreme Council, which passed its sentence after sitting for around two hours, absolved the Milanese judge “because the deed does not constitute a disciplinary offence.” A blow under the belt for the left, which was confident that Forleo was practically isolated from the community of Italian magistrates and also from the vast majority of intellectuals and opinion leaders—of course they are all, all honorable men …

It’s curious what Antonio Di Pietro, asked for a comment on the absolution of Clementna Forleo, answered the interviewer (Corriere della Sera, Saturday, June 28, in Italian). After praising the sentence (“it’s the trade union minimum”) he added: “The truth is that Berlusconi doesn’t want normal judges only ‘normalized’ ones …” Excuse me, Mr Di Pietro, the interviewer stopped him, Berlusconi has nothing to do with that affair, not this time … “ Uh, er, but, you know, they are all Berlusconi. When they become the subject of judicial inquiries there are no differences, both left wingers and right wingers … all after the judge, apart from calling him hero post mortem, as they did with Falcone and Borsellino.”

But, perhaps, neither Di Pietro nor Beppe Grillo were expecting such a sentence. However they have been unusually quiet and self-possessed, this time—of course they are both honorable men …