Police who investigated Pantani death open legal proceedings over recent claims

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The reopening of inquiries into the death of Marco Pantani has received a huge amount of television and press coverage in Italy, starting on 14 February, the tenth anniversary of his passing, with “Il Mistero Pantani” on Italia1. This programme was the first to cast the 2004-5 investigation by the Serious Crime Squad of the Rimini Questura as fundamentally flawed.

In its wake, allegations that the original inquiries were inadequate have multiplied. They have, at times, been framed in categorical and intemperate language. This morning, Moreno Maresi and Mattia Lancini, the legal representatives of the detectives who attended the scene of death and investigated the case over the following months, issued a statement. They announced that they have been “instructed to initiate proceedings in the competent legal forums against all parties who have published serious and damaging news stories bearing on the reputation and good name of the same, in connection with the investigation into the death of Marco Pantani, who tragically passed away in Rimini on 14 February 2004.”

The action comes response to what they describe as “a media lynching that has taken unacceptable proportions and seems to be fed by specious and dogmatic reconstructions, often accompanied by so-called facts that are manifestly false.”

The statement continues: “The detectives who conducted these inquiries have been subjected to a deluge of accusations taking every conceivable form.”

“The personnel of the Serious Crime Squad at the time (some of whom are no longer in active service) have maintained silence out of profound respect for the ongoing investigation. However, given the multiplication of accusations, voiced in sensationalist tones and diffused variously in print, broadcast, radio and new media, it no longer appears possible to remain silent.”

Curiously, at no point in the programme was it mentioned that the “Il Mistero Pantani” presenter, Claudio Brachino, was at the time in dispute with two members of the Serious Crime Squad of the Rimini Questura over comments made in 2008 relating to a different case. Indeed, in November, Brachino was found guilty of defamation in relation to that.

The “Il Mistero Pantani” programme did at least have to integrity to invite Andrea Rossini of the Corriere Romagna, the one journalist who has covered the case from start to finish and with an intimate knowledge of the police investigation, to challenge the claims of the “murder thesis” sustained by the Pantani family lawyer, Antonio De Rensis, and the Mediaset journalist, Davide De Zan, among others.

Rossini, however, was constantly interrupted and largely prevented from presenting his critique, as can be seen at the 16.00, 24.55 and 26.10 timeslots here.

The Canale 5 programme “Domenica Live” on 19 October 2014 did not invite Rossini or any other sceptical commentator. (Note: for Italian speakers, an extract of the programme can be found here.) The presenter of that programme, Barbara d’Urso, demonstrated little familiarity with the case file or witness statements, and at times appeared to paraphrase the version of events that was delivered by De Rensis and De Zan. in connection with another case, the Ordine dei Giornalisti, the professional body representing journalists in Italy, is currently suing d’Urso for falsely presenting herself as a journalist.

The statement concludes: “we also wish to draw attention to the profound distress experienced by the investigators as a consequence of the public ridicule to which they have been unjustly subjected by the media, feelings which are, however, amply mitigated by the knowledge that they carried out the delicate police probe into the death of Marco Pantani dutifully, diligently and expeditiously.”

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