28 February 2023. – In Trieste, the Municipal administration of mayor Roberto Dipiazza, who has been in office since 2016, is committing with impunity severe breaches of law in the management of the areas and buildings of the Northern Free Port (the so-called “old port” or “porto vecchio”), causing damages and loss of revenues in the measure of dozens million Euro, and it does so with the direct or indirect support of the local authorities that should prevent those crimes. This is, in short, the state of “public lawlessness” denounced on 20 February 2023 by the I.P.R. F.T.T. (LINK) with a document that calls for the re-establishment of the rule of law, addressed, in English and in Italian, both to the involved public authorities and officers of the Municipality, the Region, and the Port Authority, as well as to the Commissioner of the Government and Prefect of Trieste, and to the General Prosecutor at the Court of Appeal.
The notified document’s subject is: «breaches of law regarding the management of port assets assigned to the Municipality of Trieste’s available assets under art. 1, paragraph 619 of Italian Law No. 190/2014 as amended by art 1, paragraph 66, letter b) of Italian Law No. 205/2017 – criminal, civil, and administrative (including for lost revenue) liabilities of the public servants and officers involved – request to re-establish law and order».
In view of the extraordinary seriousness of the facts denounced, which have obvious public relevance, as well as in view of the news blackouts that are shielding them since years, we publish the complete document (HERE) and summarize its contents and context.
It should be pointed out that the illegal actions denounced in this act aren’t related to the legal disputes opened by the I.P.R. F.T.T. since 2017 (LINK) with three civil lawsuits for demonstration of the rights and the obligations regarding the present-day Free Territory of Trieste and its international Free Port.
Indeed, the latter legal action challenges the inconstitutionality of the 2014 Italian provisions of law, amended in 2017, which ruled the removal from permanent public property (the s.c. “sdemanializzazione”) of the Northern Free Port’s areas and buildings, transferring them to the Municipality under obligation to sell them and hand all revenues over to the Port Authority, which is itself bound to invest them in the development of other sectors of Trieste’s international Free Port, which is subject to the rights of all States.
Indeed, the I.P.R. F.T.T.’s latest complaint revolves on the fact that mayor Dipiazza’s Municipal administration, after receiving those assets bound to be sold under those provisions of Italian law, is openly violating them by using those assets as its own or for the advantage of third parties with acts regarding their disposal or ruling expenditures which, therefore, are illegitimate and constitute severe damages to public accounts.
Consequently, the complaint does also regard the behavior of the local administrative authorities and of the local judiciary, because, despite being vested with the legal obligation to prevent the breaches of law committed by the Dipiazza municipal administration, they either avoid to prevent them, or go as far as becoming active accomplices (in particular, the Port Authority of Zeno D’Agostino, in charge since 2015, and the Regional Administrations of Debora Serracchiani from 2013 to 2018 and Massimiliano Fedriga’s from 2018 to 2023).
In its act, the I.P.R. F.T.T. highlights that all of this «does also carry implications for the personal criminal, civil and administrative (including lost revenue) liabilities of the public servants and officers who either took part in those crimes or disregarded their legal obligation to prevent them».
This is why the I.P.R. F.T.T. ends its note inviting them «to take care, within [their] respective responsibilities, to re-establish law and order on the matter, and to annul in self-defense all acts drafted in breach of the provisions at art. 1, paragraph 619 of Italian Law No. 190/2014, as amended at art. 1, paragraph 66 letter b) of Italian Law No. 205/2017».
The act itself does also foresee the involvement of the European Union’s antifraud offices for the cases in which the Trieste Municipal administration released European contract notices or sought European funding for works in the “old port” simulating their legitimacy or that the Municipality enjoys unconditioned ownership over those assets (for instance, a recent cableway project: LINK).
Our readers can learn more about the whole question by reading the full document directly (LINK), however, we think it is duly adding to the new further considerations regarding two particular aspects of this case.
The first aspect is that a state of public lawlessness as the one consolidated in Trieste may only take root and remain in power by the doing of a “system” of transversal networks of power that are able to interfere with the activity of democratic authorities as well as to influence the free press.
It is no coincidence that, since 2010, the reports of investigative journalists on this matter were only published by us, or that the local judiciary has systematically ignored or covered up complaints regarding those crimes and others related to them, going as far as punishing the press that was denouncing them to public opinion.
It is no coincidence wither that in 2015 the local “system” went as far as threatening openly the new, energetic Prosecutor of the Republic, Mr. Carlo Mastelloni, and we were the only ones to stand in his defense, publishing two analyses titled «Trieste: the “system” of corruption attacks Chief Prosecutor Mastelloni» (LINK) and «Trieste: the “system” of corruption threatens Chief Prosecutor Mastelloni»(LINK).
The most interesting explanation is the one we received from high-ranking State investigators who observe also our work. They say our investigative reports about crime in Trieste have one only flaw: the crimes we denounce are «only the tip of the iceberg».
Furthermore, it doesn’t seem negligible that certain of the local public servants and officers involved in the aforementioned unpunished breaches of law are the same who engaged in commercial and port agreements with the regimes of Iran (2016) of Venezuela (2018) and of Communist China (2019).
The cases’ other particular aspect is that the abuses of Mayor Dipiazza’s Municipal administration on the assets of the so-called “old port” and at the expense of all are public; however, the only one to oppose them with effective acts is the I.P.R. F.T.T., because it appears that no other authority or organization has the freedom, capability, or the courage to do so.
And maybe it is time for the people of Trieste to see it.
Author of the English version: Silvia Verdoljak.