Free Trieste Movement




Among the consequences of the simulation of simulation of Italian sovereignty over the present-day Free Territory of Trieste, the environmental question is not to be forgotten, because it does not only consist in the pollution of the territory, turned into a dumping site of State, but it extends also to its exploitation for purposes of real estate speculations and a management anything but correct of the assets of the State under administration.

Since September 17th, 1947, the coming into force of the Treaty of Peace with Italy, Trieste is the capital city of a new, independent State, the Free Territory of Trieste, and all public properties within its borders were assigned to it without payment, to become its own assets (Annex X, art. 1 and Annex VIII, art. 2 as for the assets of the international Free Port, a State Corporation of the Free Territory of Trieste).

The prestigious coast of Trieste is one of the victims of this system of misadministration. From Duino-Devin to Miramar, the littoral was assaulted with real estate actions that subverted its very aspect, also taking away from the properties of State of the Free Territory of Trieste constrained land to hand it over to the lords of the “caste” of local powers, pretending this is properties were assets of the Italian Republic.

The symbol of this systematic raid committed by the cartels of the  “Mafias of concrete” on the coast between the “two castles” (that of Duino-Devin and the of Miramar) is certainly the Sistiana Bay. Where concrete has has completely destroyed one of the most beautiful places in Northern Adriatic.

Now, in the Bay of Sistiana there is a new, luxurious port. An exclusive resort in the environmental oasis of the “Duino cliffs”. One more act of predation at the expenses of the Free Territory of Trieste, illegally undersold by the Italian administrators.

The history of this little paradise stolen to the citizens of Trieste with decades of shady real estate operations, but well-protected by the judiciary, deserves a deepening. The memory of what has happened cannot be cancelled. As cannot be cancelled the long for justice of the people who have already rediscovered their own rights.

Translated from blog “Ambiente e Legalità” – “Environment and Legality” by Roberto Giurastante

The great business of the Baia di Sistiana (from investigative book “Tracks of Legality – how Italian mafias and corruptions pollute the Free Territory of Trieste”).

The Sistiana bay, framed in the steep coast of the Triestine Karst, is a unicum of geography, landscape, environment, history, archaeology, and public spaces in the Northern Adriatic. It is 15 kilometers away from Trieste, in the Municipality of Duino-Aurisina – Nabrežina, near the mouth of the “legendary” mysterious river Timavo, whose underground route is, to our days, one of the greatest possible discoveries of world speleology. This is where the Karst drowns, with vertiginous walls, in the Adriatic Sea, creating a unique landscape: the Duino cliffs.

Embedded between rough and sharp gorges, thanks to its beauty, the bay has always been one of the most charming natural environments of Region Friuli Venezia Giulia. Also the area of the Sistiana bay is listed as SCI (Site of Community Importance) IT3340001 – “Falesie di Duino” (Duino cliffs) and recognized as IBA (Important Bird Area 066 Karst) for its naturalistic importance.

The bay is on the climatic border, between the sub-continental climate of the Karst Highlands above the sea and the southwestern sub-Mediterranean climate of the Northern Adriatic coast. This means that in a very little space the bay hosts the biological diversity of each environment and of each contact area, especially for the flora and micro fauna. In addition, the bay shows all peculiarities, including the fauna, of the underground environment of the Karst.

History of Sistiana and of the bay

Sistiana is important since very ancient times, both because of its deep, protected bay, which makes a great port and grants fertile soil, and thanks to the passage it creates with the corresponding recess of the cliffs of the Karst, a forced passage to the roads of the highland, just like the nearby valleys of the Timavo river and of Duino – Devin.

The bay, which was already known by Ancient Romans (178 B.C.) as «proximum portum in Histriae fines» (the port near the borders of Istria) reached its maximum splendor in the early 1900s when, during the Belle Époque it became one of the main touristic destinations of Mitteleuropa and of the Habsburg Empire.

The main promoters of this positive transformation were the Princes of Thurn und Taxis, who did also own the hot springs of Monfalcone near river Lisert: first, they transformed the former residence of Giuseppe I della Torre in a hotel, making it famous as the Berghotel. Followed a second hotel on the seashore, the Strandhotel, and the big and luxurious Parkhotel, which was connected to the previous with a glass gallery; then were built a seaside resort, new shores, playgrounds; the hotels were surrounded with a very big park to strolling through gardens with of Mediterranean plants (even citrus fruits prospered there) and exotic flora.

At the Kurort of Sistiana it was possible bathing in heated marine water, taking sand-baths, or a grape cure very fashionable at that time, but also going for scenic hiking, spending long afternoons in the reading and music rooms, enjoying other forms of entertainment and concerts, travelling to Trieste, to Duino – Devin, to river Timavo, to the cities of Monfalcone, Aquileia, Gorizia, but also to the caves of San Canziano – Skocjan, either by carriage or by train. The mild climate allowed also pleasant stayings during the winter.

In 1910, the inauguration of the train station of Visogliano – Vižovlje, crossed also by the railroad to Italy and connected with both the Südbahn and the Transalpina united Sistiana to the whole Mitteleuropa, consolidating its position as outstanding seaside resort.

World War I shattered the haven of European tourism in 1915, making it the immediate rear-guard of the front in a only a few days, as well as a maritime stronghold of Austro-Hungarian forces to defend Trieste: firmly between river Timavo and Mount Hermada, there was the last sector of the Isonzofront where, for two years, the assaults of Italian forcess were consumed in the blood, in vain, accompanied by the constant rumbling of the artillery.

The whole area was fortified, now it hosted barracks, supplies and coastline gun batteries, Sistiana was bombed almost immediately after the beginning of the war.

The local population was evacuated, the hotels were closed and turned to military uses, also, among the many plurinational Austro-Hungarian divisions that stayed in the area there was the famous K.u.k. Kärntnerisches Infanterie-Regiment “Graf von Khevenhüller” Nr. 7 from Kärnten. Like the town of Sistiana, all touristic facilities were heavily damaged by the bombings of Italian artilleries (the Berghotel was nearly destroyed). Peace returned in this devastated land only in late 1917, when the victory of Caporetto – Kobarid moved the front back to river Piave, where it remained until the end of the war.

During World War II, after September 8th, 1943 (Italy’s surrender) the Germans fortified the whole coastline with bunkers and military posts, transforming the Sistiana bay in a base for the “pocket” submarines Molch of the Kriegsmarine.

After the war, with some difficulty and not before the 1960s, the bay returned to its past touristic role, yet, only for Trieste and for its surrounding.

This little naturalistic paradise with a rich history was caught in the vortex of building speculation in the 1970s, when Prince Raimondo della Torre e Tasso sold the bay to a group of Triestine businessmen who, on their side, would later trade it to the Ediltur, a company that belonged to the CAM, the core of the Armenian community, represented by trustee Mario Sartori di Borgoricco.

The new owners want to develop the bay as a touristic attraction, bringing it back to the splendor of early 1900, when it was one of the most beautiful and desired seaside resorts and spa of the Habsburg empire. The CAM is a religious community financed by Armenians all over the world, it takes care of their interests, especially spiritual, building new churches, preschools, seminaries and it probably has lots of funds. In 1400, the community settled in Venice, and even if it depends on the Patriarch of Venice, it is closely connected to the Holy See; also, it has deep connections with both Canada and the USA.

In 1976 the Ediltur is in difficulty: the City Council of Duino-Aurisina rejects the first plan for the touristic development of the bay, because that does not comply with the development plan of the area.

To this point, the CAM decides to obtain the majority share of Ediltur itself, obtaining 86% of the shares, while the other 14% remains to Triestine real estate agent Ortensia Pecchiari.

In October 1981, the shareholders of company Marina Muia, lead by Dario Azzano (from Pordenone) establish a new company, Novatur, which purchases from the CAM a 43% share of the Sistiana Golfo, which control company Sistiana Cave. However, the creation of new companies, soon followed by many others in an intricate jigsaw puzzle, won’t improve the financial exposure of any of them and, from the mid 1980s to the early 1990s, all companies involved are bankrupt, and so is their massive financial transaction. The CAM is seriously hit by the financial crack, and in January 1985 its ITL 60 billion deficit leads the Court of Venice to dispose the seizure of its assets. The heads of the CAM complain: they claim to be victims of the businessmen, who dragged them in building speculations in Sistiana, in Piancavallo, and Lido di Venezia. The leaders of the operations seem to be two businessmen: Dario Azzano and Mario Sartori di Borgoricco.

In 1994, once free from the debts of the previous, failing real estate operations, the bay finds a new owner: company SS. Gervasio e Protasio (Saints Gervasio and Protasio) of businessman Carlo Dodi, who does also present a new project for the touristic development of the area.

But how is it possible that the Sistiana bay became a black hole that made about ITL 350 billions (EUR 180 millions) in public and private funds disappear?

In 1998-99, two clamorous and detailed investigations of weekly magazine “Il Borghese” (“La baia degli imbrogli” and “Anonima fallimenti con utili miliardari” / “The Bay of frauds” and “Anonimous bankrupts with billionaire accounts”) offer very credible allegations on the very serious crimes committed by what essentially is a Mafia-style criminal organization made of both public and private subjects: one person alone, yet to be identified, would have taken action many times, with different nominees, to purchase the bay several times at and underestimated, very convenient prices, only to receive lots of public funds for facilities that would never exist, and making the money disappear with a bankruptcy, only to use it to purchase the bay again, underpriced, for no other reason than repeating the procedure over and over again; in part with the transversal consent of public administrators and offices of the State, either covering up the investigations or stopping other actions of the Judicial Police by having the inquirers transferred, however, this did not prevent some of them from finding shady money flows from Sicily, Veneto, but also internationally.

“It’s been years: a group of people, always the same, is trading the Sistiana bay over and over, from company to company, from bankruptcy to bankruptcy. They collect money from mortgages obtained thanks to complacent banks, and never repay their debts”. This is what the D.I.G.O.S. of Trieste says, writes journalist Maurizio G. Mian in his report (“Il Borghese” No.30/31 of December 24th, 1998).

According to the detailed investigations of “Il Borghese” “the Sistiana bay was used by ruthless administrators and by a complacent political establishment to obtain billions of public funds with a complex system of mortgages on the land or by the bankruptcy of the company that requested the mortgages in first place. This is how, in ten years, ITL 350 billion disappeared (were collected) against a total amount of about 1,000 billion of real estates made available as guarantee, all of this for projects that were never carried out. In other words, somebody invented and enacted a twisted, subtle mechanism that allowed certain businessmen, who happened to be also friends of influent politicians, to collect billions, possibly to share this money with their ‘godfathers’ in the City Hall”.

Italy handed over Public and State properties (including those of the Free Territory of Trieste, illegally) to local bodies for free, and, after being entrusted with the administration of those assets, they decided to downgrade them by changing their destinations of use (“from building land to simple lawns or, like in the case of Hotel Europa, which 10 years ago was worth ITL 18 billion, leaving it abandoned making its value decrease: today it can be purchased for just ITL 2 billion”). This is also when entrepreneurs who are “friends of friends” enter the business; they purchase all properties put for sale by public bodies, paying a ridiculous price, but also knowing well that, soon, Municipal administrators would regenerate their newly purchased properties. That’s it: the lawn returns to be building land and its value increases by ten times. It’s the perfect time for a mortgage. For example, this is how a property purchased for ITL 1 billion is suddenly worth 10.

The bank does immediately grant about 1/3 of its value, in our example, more than ITL 3 billion. And this is when the businessmen fills for bankruptcy, and public administrators transfer the mortgage from that property to another asset, which belongs to the City, only to put the land on sale once again, free from mortgages. “We came to the paradox that after several passages, certain parcelle catastali (cadastral parcels) with no value, like No. 2114/4 and No. 2114/5 (hosting the city’s sewer) are burdened by mortgages amounting to no less than ITL 64,5 billions – out of which, ITL 25,8 billion were already anticipated and collected. The same happened to 48 square meters of lawn, hosting an ordinary electricity sub-station of the Enel (Ente Nazionale per l’Energia Elettrica / National Company for Electric Energy) now burdened by mortgages amounting to ITL 55 billion”. What is even more incredible is that the public administration had a guilty ‘distraction’ accepting it, because it is clear that the same names keep returning in the series of trades and bankruptcies that goes on since the mid 1970s: Dario Azzano, Mario Sartori di Borgoricco, Ivano Fari, Quirino Cardarelli, Carlo Dodi, all of them, at different times, were the CEOs of a series of companies, which would all “merge” in one another (usually, the biggest company in the smallest) for example, Ediltour, Gefi, Morteo, Finsepol, Fintour, and then SS. Gervasio e Protasio [which presented the latest project for the development of the Sistiana bay, then handed over and carried out by Portopiccolo A/N]. After the bankruptcies of Fintour (sole administrator: Fari), of Finsepol (sole administrator: Quirino Cardarelli), of Ediltour (chaired by Ivano Fari and Mario Sartori di Borgoricco) and in 1994, when the Sistiana Golfo (sole administrator: Dario Azzano) merges in Fintour, the SS. Gervasio e Protasio (Deputy Chairman: Fari again) purchases 409,000 square meters of lands in the bay, for mere ITL 20 billions; note that in 1988 Region Friuli Venezia Giulia (thought bank Medio Credito delle Venezie, 47% of which belongs to the Region itself) valued about 100,000 square meters of the same land ITL 65 billion (which means the Court of Trieste accepted – in avoidance of European tendering procedures and with only one bidder – a payment that is only 5-10% of the value established by the Region)”. But how did the mortgages disappear?

In the second report of “Il Borghese” (No. 7 of 17 February, 1999) titled “Giochi sporchi a nord est – Anonima fallimenti con utili miliardari” (Dirty jobs in the Northeast – anonymous bankrupts with billionaire accounts) this mechanism is explained well:

“Having a claim for payment, the bank should have taken possession of the assets of the bankrupted company. But it did not happen. This is because, thanks to ruthless public administrators, the mortgage is transferred to another cadastral parcel, which belongs to the City, adding billions of debts on the accounts of the Municipaliy, therefore, on the shoulders of the citizens. Examples? Partita tavolare (Land Registry parcel) <n. 1045 Malchina>, which measures about 104,000 square meters, is purchased by the Sistiana Golfo (chaired by Ivano Fari and bankrupted), a company that merged with Fintour (again, chaired by Ivano Fari and bankrupted).

Land Registry parcel No. 1045 (under the Austrian Land Registry Law, land registry parcels identify ownership, while cadastral parcels identify only topographic data) consists of 50 cadastral parcels, and after many mortgages are transferred on it, becomes mortgaged for an amount of ITL 66 billion. It is important knowing that any of the 50 cadastral parcels would be automatically encumbered with the whole mortgage (ITL 66 billion) is unbundled: this means, if we decide to separate from the original 104,000 square meters only 4,000 square meters, and then we sell them, they do take the whole mortgage away from the other 104,000 square meters. And this is exactly what happened.

In 1985, the City Council of Duino Aurisina expropriates the Sistiana Golfo (about to merge with Fintour) of 4,000 square meters to build a sewer in the bay. Fintour fills for bankruptcy in 1992. But not all cadastral particles become part of the bankrupt’s asset. Two particles, No. 2114/4 and No. 2114/5, which measure about 4,000 square meters are left out (the sewer is built there).
The authorized liquidator, Lino Guglielmucci, and geometra (building surveyor) Carlo Vellani redraw the area, changing the number of the other cadastral parcels. Suddenly, the ITL 66 billion mortgages are back. Where? You know it. Yes, that’s it, right on the 4,000 square meters of the sewer. So, the Municipality has taken the mortgages of a private owner upon itself. This is how the 100,000 square meters of the bankrupt’s asset were purified and made ready to be sold again, with the seal of virginity. The irregularity? Huge. Starting with the City Council, which allowed the mortgage being transferred on one of its properties. Then there is the authorized liquidator who, maybe out of sight issues, did not notice the mortgage and, shuffling the numbers of the cadastral parcels, did accidentally describe the bankrupted society’s assets as free from any obstacle. They have cleaned it up to sell it again. Not a big deal you say?

Because it is a huge deal: out of nearly half a million square meters of seashore, we have only checked 130 cadastral parcels so far. And what did we find out? We discovered that the trick was successfully repeated no less than 86 times. So, thanks to their local authorities, the 8,500 inhabitants of Duino-Aurisina are in default for more than ITL 350 billions (again, this is only what we discovered so far), and each of them is burdened not only by the public debt of the State (more than ITL 41 millions per capita), but also by ITL 41 millions of municipal debt. More than 80 millions per capita, including elderly and newborns!”.

The investigations of “Il Borghese” do also reveal a “system” based on money laundering that revolves on the bankruptcies in the bay, and its main protagonist is businessman Ivano Fari: “Born in Bologna, recently turned 48, the deux ex machina of all business centers on tourism and mining, appears in the Region during the 1970s, when he moves to Gorizia and opens a sportswear store, Farisport (scarce success). After this important experience, he turns to building with the Gefi, the first of a long series of companies. The role of this ‘silent’ protagonist of the economy of the North East is disconcerting: there is no business related to tourism, to hotels or to mining that he does not enter with one of his several companies. From the Sistiana bay to Aprilia Marittima, from the Lido di Cavallino to Sella Nevea, from Piancavallo to the Marco Polo airport in Venice. He is always there, cautious and silent. With his usual soft spot for crack (in financial terms).

According to the investigators, Fari became involved in finance and banking thanks to General Aldo Benazzi, who has exceptional contacts in the cyrcles of politics and of high finance, and who eventually became an intermediary of the Finsepol. For example, it is thanks to him that Fari is able to start a privileged relationship with the Morteo spa, a society of group IRI (Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale / Institute for Industrial Reconstruction), which helped him when Fintour filled for bankruptcy”.

Strange enough, the CAM (Congregazione aconfessionale mediorentale / Aconfessional Congregation of the Middle East, possibly the same Armenians – but then they cannot be “aconfessional” – who have already lost ITL 60 billion in Sistiana?) comes back in Fari’s turnover.

On “Il Borghese” we read: “In 1990, the DIGOS of Sassari arrests two men, Aldo Ferrari and Stefano Vannini, both charged with trafficking counterfeit CCT (Certificati di Credito del Tesoro / Treasury Credit Certificates). During the searching of their houses, the police confiscated documentation about a loan requested by Ivano Fari. We read the contract. Fari, as administrator of Finsepol, of Sistiana Cave, of the Sistiana Golfo, and of the Sicat, receives a USD 312,500,000 loan. This means about ITL 500 billion. And who is the munificent financier? The name says it all: Cam, the Aconfessional Congregation of the Middle East, with head office in Jerusalem and represented in Italy by Aldo Ferrari, one of the men arrested by the DIGOS. The loan was to be used to build an hotel-tourist resort in the Sistiana bay”.

But, in the end, no cent of the ITL 500 billion is found. If the companies that received the loan (Finsepol, Sistiana Cave, Sistiana Golfo, Sicat) and their guarantors (Fintour, Gfg, Gefi) received the money, why did they all fill for bankruptcy? And why didn’t the authorized liquidator add the ITL 500 billion to the bankrupt’s assets? And if this money has not been added to their accounts yet, why aren’t the administrators charged with accounting fraud and fraudulen bankruptcy? None of those questions was answered yet.

After the publication of this journalistic report, the second, which deepened the first, its author, journalist Pelliccetti, was sued for defamation in the press by both Roberto Antonione (then President of the Regional Council of Friuli Venezia Giulia) and the Region he represented. With judgment No. 308/01 of April 11th, 2001, the Court of Monza acquitted the journalist of “Il Borghese” because “the fact does not constitute a crime”. Point 2 of the grounds for the judgment (Il ruolo della Regione / The role of the Region) explains:

“As for this, it was confirmed that all companies involved in the bay over the years eventually filled for bankruptcy, also, the administrators of the Fintour plea bargained a sentence for fraudulent bankruptcy, however, regardless to this, the Region keeps having a business relations with the same people, and especially with Ivano Fari, former administrator of the bankrupted company, already convicted for fraudulent bankruptcy, current intermediary of the Region on behalf of company Ss. Gervasio e Protasio, in particular, it was confirmed that despite all the billions spent, no infrastructures were build in the bay. Considering all of this, the opinion on the involvement of Regional authorities, consisting at least in a lack of control when not in a management of public affairs based on criteria that do not always match public interest, is not out of place. (Omissis…) anyways, the news states that all those companies were generously funded to take part in public works with means and criteria that are often impossible to understand, and without undergoing the needed controls, and also that the same companies have never built anything: all of this gives rise to serious doubts as for the behavior of public authorities.”

This is the situation in 2001, when we take a stand on the Sistiana case. It is a really though situation: on one side, public authorities keep offering strong support also to the newest project for the touristic development of the bay, granting new public funds to it, while on the other side environmentalists and citizen’s committees oppose to what they consider nothing more than a seal of approval for an environmental disaster.

But, as we mentioned before, this is not only and exclusively an environmental problem. We must adapt our action to our opponents, making it as hard as possible for them to succeed with their reckless financial operations, which, to this moment, were always and undeniably protected. In our opinion, whatever is concealed behind the touristic requalification of the bay justifies an important action with the main goal to stop the flow of public money to Sistiana.

Fine, but who are our opponents? In fact, there is no room for optimism. Other than a “joyfull” gang of businessmen who resemble a Mafia-like organization, “Il Borghese” reported also the involvement of all political circles of the Region. And, strange enough, local magistracy proved to be absent, distracted, to the point that it took no action, except when endorsing the far too reckless bankruptcies of the companies involved in the business and the miraculous resurrection of so many “failed” businessmen. For instance, the only chance to find the truth about the Sistiana business was its discussion in the merit before the Court of Monza (where there was also the office of “Il Borghese” the newspaper sued for denouncing to public opinion the inconvenient truth) as part of the trials opened by a “system” a little bit too arrogant. Because far from home, in a Court with foreign judges, the cause (of criminality) was lost. Both newspaper and journalist were acquitted, and now there are judgments serving as evidences that, when it comes to the past and present situation of the Sistiana bay, nothing is as easy as it seems.

So we diversify our interventions. Since our previous reports to the Prosecution Office of the Republic in Trieste were vain or, even worse, the investigations were covered up (from “Il Borghese” of February 19th, 1999: “They stopped them. By the strike of a pen, they tried to cancel long months of investigations, telephone taps, researches, and witnesses. All they wanted was to find the truth in a huge, stormy – but still dull – turnover that revolves around the Sistiana bay, the pearl of the Adriatic, only a few steps away from Trieste. They stopped them. All of them were removed, transferred to other duties: I am talking about the investigators of the DIGOS who discovered the ingenious and massive “system” for the illegal collection of hundreds of billions.”), we address the Commissione Parlamentare Antimafia (The Italian Parliament’s Anti-mafia Commission) directly: in 2002, we present a dossier supported by the two journalistic investigations of “Il Borghese”. Also, we list about twenty witnesses who might add new, useful elements to understand whatever is going on.

But there will be no answer, and not even a sign of an intervention of the Commission.

We inform the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Environmental and Cultural Heritage because of the environmental impact of the new intervention for the touristic development of the bay, but again, the results are near zero. For instance, both Ministries justify what is happening in Sistiana.

On October 14th, 2002, in an attempt to understand the role of the mysterious CAM, being their head office in Jerusalem, we send a dossier about Sistiana to the Israeli embassy in Italy. And, finally, we receive an answer, and very promptly: on November 14th we are informed that our documents were sent to the competent authorities in Israel. We won’t receive any new information, but since then the CAM does finally disappear from Sistiana.

Sistiana bay: first intervention of the European Commission

In February 2003 we present a second complaint, addressing the European Commission about the environmental impact of the new project. According to this project, an avalanche of concrete should bury the Sistiana bay, and this would completely destroy a fragile equilibrium established and preserved through long centuries. The new owners, (the S.G.P.) want to build a luxury yacht dock, a big tourist resort and a huge hotel in the eastern part of the bay. Also, the northern part of the bay should host new seaside or touristic resorts (a hotel, swimming pools, restaurants, spas), and then an arrival station for a cable railway, with a tunnel dig into the rocks, to be connected with a big car park (2,000 parking spaces) that should be built on the Karst plateau above the bay.

The core of this project is the yacht dock-touristic resort-hotel, to be built in the dismissed Sistiana quarry. In order to build all the facilities, it is necessary excavating the seabed of the quarry to create a big, artificial gulf with seawater. The hotel will be framed right into the walls of the former quarry, forming a big monolith above both the dock and the tourist resort (a real town with at least 400 houses).

This is an astonishing, ambitious project, and it looks just like its many predecessors. Big projects do obviously attract big investments (this time about EUR 160 millions), and someone is going to actually grant the money, this is the moral of the story of the Sistiana bay.

But let us return to the environmental impact of this project. A massive concreting would represents a serious threaten for this ecosystem, whose value is recognized at European level.

In our complaint to the Directorate-General (DG) Environment of the European Commission, we denounce the violation of the E.U. the Directives on Habitat and on Birds that protect avifauna, because this area includes some very rare species, like the Proteus (there are numerous caves, their explored parts alone extend for about 30 meters above the sea, and the contact area between limestone and sandstone just below the level of the sea is also where there are resurgences in the bay), also, we present a video about one of the spectacular caves in the quarry (the Grotta delle Candele / Cave of Candles), which is not far from the sea and might be connected to underground branches of river Timavo, which flows into the sea only a few kilometers away. This will be a precious witness (the last one), but it won’t be enough to save this unique cave: the Grotta delle Candele is blown up soon after, when the works to adapt the walls of the quarry to the new project start.

The European Commission takes action (complaint 2003/4222) opening an investigation, which is dismissed in October 2004 because at that time the project had not been approved yet, making it impossible demonstrating a breach Community law.

However, during the investigation the Commission services addressed Italian authorities: the case was discussed in a dedicated meeting held in Rome on June the 25th, 2003. Italian authorities assured their European counterparts about the compliance of the project with E.I.A. (Environmental Impact Assessment) procedures and with Directives 92/43/EEC Habitat and 79/409/EEC Birds. According to them, the project won’t affect the SCI (Site of Community Importance) “Falesie di Duino” (Duino cliffs), because it involves only a little portion of the habitat (about 100-200 square meters out of 50,000).

We take note of the answer and get ready for round two. It starts soon.

The sale of the Sistiana quarry: how to cut intruders off the deal

In facts, the investigation of the European Commission reveals something abnormal that cannot be underestimated. If the project was not approved yet (this is why the Commission had dismisses the case) how can the company that proposed it, the S.G.P. (which took the ownership shares of the bay from the bankrupted companies) have already received several public funds for it? Also, it seems like the succession of companies ad hoc is starting all over again: the first to appear the S.T. Sistiana – under the control of leading partner S.G.P. – and now in charge of both the project and the funds. Now they want the Sistiana quarry, which belongs to the Region (it is a State-owned asset; the S.G.P. is only a concessionaire) and is expected to become the heart of the new project, hosing all main facilities (marinas, holiday villages, hotels) and even a new, artificial gulf (a bay within the bay). No quarry? No party!

But the hot dish of this party is dozens of millions of Euro in public money… and this is why the Region must absolutely hand the quarry over to the S.G.P. and to the S.T. Sistiana keeping all intruders away: any of them might ruin this dirty business. But there is a problem. In April 2002, when the concession to S.G.P. – S.T. expires, there will be many competitors, thus intruders everywhere. And this is when the defenses of the “system” come into action.

In early July 2002, the Direzione Regionale degli Affari Finanziari e del Patrimonio (Regional Department of Financial and Property Affairs) prepares a report to facilitate the renewal of the concession to the S.T. (construction company) however, this report was never signed. The reports supports the S.T. Sistiana with two main arguments: first, the revelation that the private company has already received public money amounting to EUR 14 million under Italian Law 488/92 for a project that had not been approved yet, therefore a project presented despite the unavailability of an essential part of the construction area. The secondo argument is the equally surprising declaration that this project bears public interests, thus any refusal to support it could not but depend on “excuses of political nature”.

As early as on July 18th, 2002 the Regional Council decides to grant the quarry to the construction company once again, but this time it is under a lease contract instead of another concession (regular procedures might have prevented the project from being carried out).

As for the resolutions of the Regional Council on the matter, No. 2608 is an ordinary act, it summarizes the report of the Regional Department of Financial and Property Affairs; No. 2607 is a confidential act of the President of the Regional Council and the minutes shows not only that Assessor Dressi strongly support the project, but also that Assessor Seganti is uncertain about it, as she mentions that the resolution lacked an objective criteria to decide about the assignation of the quarry, and that the change in the Municipal Development Plan regarding the ambito (zone) of the Sistiana bay had not received the final approval yet; also, no final project had been presented for the area.

On June 6th, the Region sells the quarry to S.T. Sistiana avoiding all tendering procedures, in spite of pending requests for concession; this happens in times and by means that show the special the extraordinary coordination and rush of all parties involved in the sale just to complete it on this very date, due to the imminent end of the mandate of the Regional Council (President: Renzo Tondo). In facts:

– Since the first professional estimate had been questioned due to an excessive reduction of the price, the final estimate is lodged on June 3rd, 2003, setting the value of the quarry in only EUR 2,024,000 (without including the Italian VAT), regardless to the fact that the construction company suppored its request to purchase it with speculative reasons (quarrying, then building).

– The Regional Council approves the sale on June 5th, 2003 with resolution No. 1880, the decision is not unanimous and the abstracts of the minutes lack data about when the meeting was held and the time of the vote. At 1 PM of the same day, the board of directors of the construction company, consisting in President Carlo Dodi and two more advisors, holds a meeting in the Sistiana offices, deciding to purchase of the quarry for the exact same price set by the Region; the special mandate to complete the purchase is assigned to Doctor Cesare Bulfon.

– Again on June 5th, in Mantova, Carlo Dodi signs the special mandate for Doctor Bulfon at the office of notary Bertolucci: the act lacks the hour of the signature.

– Carlo Dodi’s signature on the mandate signed at Mantova looks different from his signatures on the minutes of the meeting held in Sistiana (Trieste) on that same day, and it is also different from the signature on his request to purchase the quarry back in 2002.

– The contract of purchase is undersigned June 6th, 2003 in Trieste, at the head office of the Regional Department of Financial and Property Affairs.

– This act specifies that the purchaser (construction company) had already paid the whole price with five, non-transferable assegni circolari (bank drafts) issued on June 5th by the Banca Agricola Mantovana S.p.A..

After verifying all of the above, we cannot but inform Judicial Authorities. The preferential procedure for the awarding, renting and the sale of the Sistiana quarry – which is already abnormal and constitutes a breach of the laws on the sale of State properties and on free competition – is connected to a EUR 14 million public fund, actually, it was necessary to justify it in first place.

However, the inquiry of the Prosecution Office of the Republic in Trieste (proceeding 3458/05 RGNR, assigned to Public Prosecutor Raffaele Tito) proves to be equally abnormal and, soon, a request to dismiss the case without investigations arrives. The Public Prosecutor refuses to carry out the investigations arguing that previous investigations on alleged crimes against public administration were as expensive as unsuccessful (he was probably recalling the investigations described by “Il Borghese”).

This argument is obviously illogical and superficial: the fact that previous investigations on the same allegations did not find crimes against public administrations does not logically imply that new investigations, especially investigations with completely different grounds, would be equally unsuccessful, nor does it mean that the only allegations are crimes against public administrations or that the only investigated persons should be public officers and authorities.

Also, the Public Prosecutor supports his decision with the surprising claim that the Sistiana quarry case “deserves to remain on a merely political-administrative level” as it regards “choices that belong within the framework of politics, but have absolutely no criminal relevance”. This means he justifies political choices by virtue of their nature alone.

This way of thinking, which is unfortunately as common as the consequent disastrers, is inadmissible, it has no legitimacy or legal bases: all political choices need a limit, it is the logical, necessary and ultimate limit established by the laws and the legal system they belong to.

Denying that means establishing something no different from a dictatorship, in which political powers prevail on the citizens and on the judiciary, and this contraddicts, before any specific law, the very concepts of democracy and of Constitutional values.

Also, the Public Prosecutor expresses no counter-claims when it comes to the question to the legitimacy of the decision to grant EUR 14 million in public money to a project not that had not been approved yet, and depending on an asset that had not been purchased yet.

Obviously, we lodge a statement of opposition against the dismissal of the case, reporting also a sequence of procedural errors committed by the Public Prosecutor, but we face another, ultimate barrier: the G.I.P. (Giudice per le Indagini Preliminari / Judge of the preliminary investigations), Massimo Tomassini, approves the dismissal of the proceeding and declares our statement of opposition inadmissible.

But why does the Judge of the preliminary investigations consider our detailed statement of opposition inadmissible? Because he argues that in this particular case, the complainants (which means us) cannot “be considered the person offended by the crime, for that would be, if any, the public administration”. This means that Region Friuli Venezia Giulia, which has covered the arbitrary awarding of public funds, should denounce itself to judicial authorities: there is no other way to open an investigation. So, even if EUR 14 million of public money disappear, the citizens have no right to address the Court. All they can do is turn their head away and stay silent. The “lords” of Sistiana are thankful: they were saved once again.

And this is when we remember “Il Borghese” and how journalist Riccardo Pelliccetti ended his report about Sistiana on that newspaper:

“A big family: «you’re nothing but a lot of talk and a badge!» says Al Capone-De Niro to the Chicago police in The Untouchables. It is the same kind of expressions that were used by one of those ruthless businessmen with the investigators of the Guardia di Finanza who were questioning him for allegedly avoiding taxes for billions: «I got all of them by the balls….» he would have exclaimed, «The family is very angry…», he would also add, only to make it clearer. Did it happen for real? Maybe he exaggerated, but some alarming uncertainty remains. Why was the investigation made harder when it was close to the first results? Also, why no political party ride this scandal made of connections between politics and Mafia that took place no less than in the Italian Northeast which, until that moment, was the symbol of economic development and efficiency? Actually, the answer is right there, but Magistracy must talk first.”