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A lesson in journalism

by Beppe Grillo on 22.06.2006

A lesson in journalism Yesterday Piero Ricca asked Andreotti a few questions. After that he had to flee but he was caught and taken to the Police Station. Here is his story.

“Early yesterday afternoon, in the big lecture theatre of the Università Bicocca, in Milan, I put a few questions to the life senator Giulio Andreotti, about the strange absolution that he got on the grounds of “prescription” {timed out} for the crime of associating to commit a crime, that the judges at least until 1980, considered to be “concretely reviewable”. Because I dared to do this, I was identified and threatened by police officers and kept at the Police Station for almost 2 hours. And I was lucky it was just that.
In the big lecture theatre of the Università Bicocca a few journalists were interviewing our life-long employee about other topics: Moggi, the national team, “the decline of public morality as can be seen from the recent intercepts”, the relationship between hopeful actresses and men in power and so on. Andreotti was comfortably seated, relaxed. Every so often he made a joke and the journalists laughed heartily. The university lecturers around formed a festive circle.

At a certain moment I entered the picture and I handed Andreotti a sheet of paper with an extract from the judgement of the Palermo Appeal Court that was then confirmed by the Supreme Court. With the most courteous tone possible I asked him to comment on it. A dialogue of 3 or 4 minutes ensued and I recorded it on the video recorder at a distance of less than 3 or 4 metres.

I asked him about the responsibility attributed to him by the Italian justice system. I asked him if he thought it was normal for someone to be in Parliament as a life senator being described like that in a definitive judgement. I pointed out that in the opinion of many international publications, “the Andreotti case” was considered to be a scandal and the interview continued like that.

He replied and invited me to read the whole judgement, since “from extracts you can understand little”, he stated that the "prescription" was a result only of the doubts that the court had about a single meeting (according to him that never took place) with the mafia person Bontade (“a certain Bontade”). He added that when he’s abroad he encounters only respect and solidarity. And he continued like that, minimising and finding slip roads to escape from the questions, with his typical eyes shaped like slots.

While I was asking the questions some of his personal bodyguards in plain clothes pushed and pulled me from behind. At this I rebelled immediately out loud. I asked Andreotti if it is still possible to ask questions to politicians in this country and he replied that no one was stopping me. He said that it is a right to ask questions “and to answer them as well” then he added: “But if you are here to make trouble then….” The body guards meanwhile were surrounding me and holding me from behind.

At the end of the interview, State Police officers tried to take me away by pulling me with force. I protested in a loud voice in the middle of the lecture theatre, while the conference was beginning. The police disappeared. No one raised an eyebrow.

I stayed in the lecture theatre for another 20 minutes, sitting peacefully and recording on the video. Then I went out on my own and I was treated like a criminal.

A private University guard started to shout at me menacingly. He shouted and pushed me violently out of a side door. Andreotti’s bodyguards held me and threatened to take the video camera away. They ordered me to show my documents. The tone was aggressive, neurotic like a bad western.

There was obviously an attempt to intimidate me. While the private guard continued to shout and threaten me I got myself free and went away.

The police and the private guards followed me and immobilised me in a place where no one goes by and my arguments went unheeded. Arguments like: “I have done nothing wrong. I have simply asked a politician some questions. It is allowed to do a recording of public personalities and events. If you commit abuses I will denounce you.”

The agents continued repeating: “You cannot behave like that with the senator. Your questions were not relevant. You cannot make a recording without permission. You have also recorded us. And then we already know who you are. It was you in Rome in front of the Senate. Now you will give us the material and then we will take you to the Police Station.”

While they were saying this, one held me up against a wall and the other got my backpack with the video camera and an audio recorder.

I objected: “Leave it to a judge to decide who is right. You are committing an abuse and anyway I demand to know your names.”
An agent replied: "Now I am the law. I am the judge.” Then turning to his colleague he added: “Now we will take his fingerprints, that way the friend will start to calm down.” The negative influence of American westerns cannot be calculated.

Then I was taken by other police officers who drove me to the Greco police station. I was kept there for more than an hour and a half. They took the backpack. By chance, I had committed a grave crime and did not have my regular identity card with me. But I could show them an ID card of the type used for elections that I had on me by chance. We had to wait for a fax from Parma with a photocopy of my document.

This meant that the procedure that had been mentioned, photo identification and fingerprinting in Questura was not needed. This would have been an amusing event for one of Milan’s most identified people.

For all this time I was prevented from telephoning my lawyer and I was not allowed to make or receive any other calls. I asked to be allowed to do this but was told: “You must keep your mobile switched off.”

I noticed that the officers at the Greco police station consulted others by phone. These included Andreotti’s bodyguards. They were trying to decide whether or not to impound the recording equipment. While they were engaged in these complex negotiations I made them aware that I am well known in the environs of the Questura and elsewhere for my activity as a committed citizen interested in politics. I cited names and facts including declarations and parliamentary investigations concerning the Milan police.

At the end I was released together with the video camera and the other stuff. The officials had drawn up a document “for internal use” that I was not allowed to see.

That’s it. I was treated in this way because, in the middle of the silence of most news operations, I asked 2 or 3 questions to a life senator who has been judged by our country’s justice system, to have colluded with the mafia. He was saved from a sentence because of prescription. Because of the time delay. And I have never even had a fine in my whole life.

In strict coherence, the regional evening news (TG3) defined my activity (of asking questions as a journalist) as a provocation. And today’s edition of il Corriere della Sera reports the news of my transfer to the police station. As “following a discussion with Andreotti”. In the wording above the title, the word “discussion” becomes “fight”.

From Beppe Grillo's blog (beppegrillo.it) with Creative Commons License


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