A 52-year-old man wanted by Italian authorities for his alleged involvement in the deadly 1969 bombing of a Milan bank filed a defamation suit Friday with the Tokyo District Court against two newspapers and two magazine publishers.
Delfo Zorzi, who has lived in Japan for over 20 years, is married to a Japanese woman and obtained Japanese nationality in 1989. His Japanese name is Roi Hagen.
He is demanding 22 million yen in compensation and published apologies from the four firms — the Asahi Shimbun, the Mainichi Shimbun, Shogakukan Inc. and Shinchosha Co.
According to the suit, the articles in question label Zorzi a terrorist, although he denies having taken part in the 1969 attack, and include inaccuracies and falsehoods.
Among the examples cited in Zorzi’s suit are a May 1 Mainichi Shimbun article headlined, “The prosecutor who filed the case convinced (Zorzi) committed the crime,” and the weekly magazine Aera’s article in its April 17 edition with the headline, “The sweet life of an Italian fugitive.”
Italy has asked Japan to extradite Zorzi, whom Italian authorities claim is one of the main neofascist terrorists involved in the bombing of Banca Nazionale dell’Agricoltura that killed 16 people.
But the two nations do not have any legal arrangement for the extradition of criminals. Japan also has no law allowing for a Japanese national to be extradited.
At present, the Justice Ministry is cautiously studying the Italian request based on documents submitted by Italian authorities.
The man maintains that he was in Naples at the time of the attack, hundreds of kilometers away.
A trial in which Zorzi is one of the four main people accused opened in a Milan court in February.
Megumi Nishikawa, head of the Mainichi’s foreign news department, said the daily stands by its story, noting that it was based on solid research.
Mamoru Sekido, editor in chief of the Asahi Shimbun’s weekly magazine Aera, said the firm would decide what action to take after reading the suit.
The editor in chief of Shogakukan’s magazine Sapio, Akihiko Takeuchi, voiced surprise at the suit, saying the magazine received a written complaint May 23 and had until June 23 to respond. He added that the publication has confidence in its story.