Italian government apologises for erroneous and defamatory motion to join trial as a joint plaintiff

February 11, 2023

11.02.2023 – Court of Trapani. Lasting ten hours, the longest and most heated hearing in the iuventa case took place yesterday, dealing with the inadequate interpretation and the government’s request to appear as a joint plaintiff.

The judge rejected the iuventa’s lawyers objection that the quality of the interpretation during the interrogations had been insufficient. He acknowledged that many mistakes were made, but was of the opinion that these could only be considered as irregularities and that the overall meaning of the translated parts was sufficient for general fairness.

With this decision, the judge went completely against the opinion of the experts appointed by the court. After examining the audiovisual material of the three interrogations conducted so far, they had concluded that the interpreters provided by the authorities were unsuitable, as essential parts could not be understood by the defendant.

Kathrin Schmidt, iuventa defendant:The judge refuses to fully guarantee our rights to a defence, to understand the charges against us, to participate effectively and to ensure the fairness of the trial.This is happening in a case with much public attention, so it is easy to imagine the devastating consequences in countless cases against people on the move.”

The application of the Ministry of Interior and the Office of the Prime Minister to join the trial, in order to sue the accused for damages, was discussed at length.
 The defense lawyers submitted a request for the exclusion of the parties, stressing that their application was full of errors, both in form and content, and therefore inadmissible. Some errors were indeed so serious that the defense lawyers threatened to file a counterclaim for defamation as the motion also included offences for which the defendants are not even charged, like belonging to a transational crime organization. This led to the government representative having to apologize and entire passages to be deleted from the application.

The judge will announce the decision on the government’s participation at the next hearing on February 25, 2023.

Francesca Cancellaro, defense lawyer:This motion has nothing to do with either the indictment or the investigative files, which are, however, the factual and legal basis from which the the existence of damage to the Ministry of the Interior are deduced. Rather, it is the imaginary result of an ill-conceived cut and sew, perhaps stemming from another proceeding in which the prosecutor was previously involved. A carelessness in the drafting of the deed that shows little respect to the defendants and to the court.”

After the hearing scheduled for January 13 was postponed, today’s hearing was the first in 2023, with more hearings to follow in February and March.