This is the absurd story of an Italian citizen, Giuseppe Lo Porto, 86 years-old, who ended up in the wheels of an infernal legal mechanism; he was extradited within two weeks to the United States, following his arrest on May 7th, 2012 by the Carabinieri of Pieve di Cadore, following an extradition decree which he was never notified of. The previous day, Lo Porto, as an Italian citizen, had even voted in the municipal elections of San Vito di Cadore. Today he is in an Alabama prison and is serving three life sentences as an innocent man. Victim of an unjust trial and of a legal system gone wrong? Is it an isolated case?
No. In Italy, the number of victims of wrongful imprisonment currently stands at 1003, as shown by the data presented by the Union of Criminal Chambers in Padua on opening day of the judicial year at a conference dedicated to legal errors. In Veneto alone, 22 cases of false imprisonment were recorded in 2018.
A former Italian entrepreneur, who also served the United States government as an official interpreter as well as authoring a book criticising the American justice system, is at the centre of one of the most controversial cases of breaches of justice. Pino Lo Porto is 86 years-old and suffers from a serious heart disorder; since 1996 he has been the protagonist of a trial that Kafka himself would baulk at. It all revolves around an unsubstantiated accusation of rape that has led him, as an Italian citizen, to be extradited to the United States and given three life sentences, which he is currently serving, again as an Italian citizen extradited to the United States, in an Alabama prison. He is in regular contact with his niece who lives in Canada, only through the regular postal service. Lo Porto has always declared himself innocent of the accusations made by his ex-wife; during their divorce proceedings, she successfully laid claim to his fortune.
His lawyer, Luciano Faraon, who has worked on the case from the very beginning, reveals all the ins and outs to us, after having filed a new urgent appeal to the Italian Council of State on 7th February; it includes a letter in which Lo Porto asks for President Trump to intervene. In the meantime, the Lazio Regional Administrative Court has also ordered the Ministry of Justice to pay the legal costs of the dispute, but the latter (the Ministry has been aware of the case since the beginning because of the numerous appeals made over the years) has so far refused to comply with the request, demanding an ad hoc power of attorney signed by Lo Porto. Limited to the use of the ordinary postal service, not to mention the difficulties in dealing with bureaucratic issue by an elderly sick man, this power of attorney only arrived a few days ago.
“I wonder if this means that now,” says Faraon, “the Ministry will really deal with this case, bringing Lo Porto back to…