Friday 2 December 2016

Peter Popham: Nation of cowards tag returns to haunt Italy .. but it's more complicated than that

Published 19/01/2012 | 14:14

As long as you didn't lose a loved one, the sinking of the Costa Concordia has been almost the perfect news story, providing a spectacle of gigantic folly while confirming our fondest prejudices: the Italian nutter who drove his liner like a Ferrari, phoned his mamma when it started to sink, then scarpered for safety, leaving passengers and crew scrambling around in the dark. How very Italian.

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Francesco Schettino may indeed be guilty as charged: the transcripts of the conversations in which he apparently lied, hedged and begged don't seem to allow much leeway. Given the state of Italian justice, we should only have to wait about 25 years for a verdict.

But in the meantime another Italian vice is on display: the rush to judgment. It happens every time a big story breaks in Italy. The weakness of sub judice laws and the fact that practically every telephone in the country appears to be tapped give journalists scoops that their colleagues elsewhere would kill for.

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