'Why the planned Lyon-Turin railway line should be sabotaged'

By Mathilde AUVILLAIN

On Tuesday February 24th the French president François Hollande and Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi met in Paris to give their full backing to the highly-controversial high-speed rail link between Lyon and Turin. Much of the bitter opposition to the railway focuses on the planned 57km tunnel through the Alps between the Susa valley in Italy and the Maurienne valley in France. One of the most vehement opponents of the scheme is acclaimed Italian novelist and translator Erri de Luca. His comment that the railway project should be “sabotaged” has now landed him in court for the alleged incitement of a crime, over which he faces a five-year jail term if found guilty. Here the Italian author talks to Mathilde Auvillain about his determination to defend his right to freedom of expression.

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As he welcomes Mediapart into his home, celebrated Italian novelist Erri de Luca obligingly spells out the legal predicament he finds himself in. “I was sent for trial for incitement to commit a crime, because I said that it was necessary to sabotage the work on the Lyon-Turin railway line or TAV (Treno Alta Velocita),” he says, speaking in French. “A crime....” he mutters as he enters the kitchen, the main room in this house that he built with his own hands thirty years ago in the countryside outside Rome.