The first time on November 4th, the last on March 19th. In all, the magistrates count 34 episodes of data falsification. Not just any numbers, but those that serve to outline the situation of Covid in Sicily. Six people are investigated by the prosecutor of Trapani with various false accusations, for having “adjusted” – with awareness – the number of positives, swabs carried out and, at times, even deaths and hospitalizations. Among these also the councilor for health, Ruggero Breed. Three of them are under house arrest: the general manager of Dasoe Maria Letizia Di Liberti, the regional official Salvatore Cusimano and the employee of a company that deals with the computer management of the councilor’s data, Emilio Madonia.
The data “adjusted” so as not to cause alarms (and because the accounts did not add up). “We spread the dead over several days”, “add the swabs and don’t care”
From the interceptions – initiated because the investigators were investigating for fraud in public supplies and aggravated fraud – the systematic modification of the numbers of the infection emerges where it was believed that they were too high or, on the contrary, too low and therefore untrue. All this, in a context of great confusion, of systematic delays, of data that were not loaded by the peripheral health structures in the platform created for this purpose. Several times, it emerges clearly from the wiretapping, Letizia Di Liberti has to phone the hospitals of the various provinces to get the data. Many, too many times, this data has something wrong with it. And so, systematically, they are adjusted so as not to seem too alarming and – the judge writes even if in reality the suspects make very few references – so as not to plunge the region into the red zone.
The result is a panorama, inevitably distorted, of deaths that are “smeared” – to use Razza’s words – over several days, because they had not been previously communicated daily and there was no intention of creating alarms. Quick buffers – 2000, not derisory figures – which are counted even when the ministry still had not to be included in the total count. And if the interlocutor raises doubts, Di Liberti replies “don’t care”.
Even places in intensive care are sometimes “corrected”. As well as the percentages of positivity kept within a certain amount with impromptu mathematical operations.
In each conversation – there are many contained in the 240 pages of the ordinance of the investigating judge Caterina Brignone – the interlocutors, Di Liberti and Cusimano, in particular, who are aunt and nephew – propose to recover the “adjustments” made. In order to square the circle, sooner or later. In reality, however, the more time passes, the more the accounts do not add up. In this way a wrong picture is returned, often reassuring when instead there was to be alarmed and, perhaps, to act. But the goal, in a context of evident chaos, is that: to make a “good impression”, to use the words of the suspects. Show that the region was handling the situation with dignity. Do not reveal epidemiologically worrying situations. On November 4, Di Liberti spoke to Ferdinando Croce, who was also investigated: “Now he called me Ruggero (Razza, ed), he says, tomorrow morning we will review all the parameters, from one week to the next and we will actually see what the parameter is he triggered the orange, perhaps to understand how to proceed. Because the fundamental problem is whether we completely become the red zone ”.
The role of Race
Race is called into question a few times, but not systematically. For the investigators he is responsible for six episodes. One is that in which, referring to the deaths in the municipality of Biancavilla, in the province of Catania, he asks to “spread” them over several days. 7 had been reported in one day. They actually dated back several days. But instead of being recovered, perhaps with some clarification, they are arbitrarily divided into the following days. A similar episode occurs with hospitalizations. On December 27, Di Liberti calls Razza and tells him that the hospitalizations for Covid that day were 40 more in total. A high number, compared to 13 resignations. The commissioner agrees, there are too many. So? “Let’s see ….. if anything, let’s shake a pike … let’s see … go …”, he tells her. Twenty days earlier, on December 7, the problem was the positives. Few had been found. Less than 900, on an average of 1000-1100. Also in this case, trusting in the fact that in the following days they would increase and therefore the total could somehow with a real data, it is thought good to inflate the data. Di Liberti calls Razza: “Ruggero, I told you, in this way there are 868, they are few compared to 1000, usually 1100”, he says. And he proposes to insert at least another 50 positives, which in reality do not exist. Razza invites you to think about it for a minute. but then the conversation ends. And in the regional bulletin there will be 50 more positives.
From the papers it emerges that the councilor for Health did not like the situation that had arisen due to Covid. Di Liberti herself tells her interlocutor, defining Razza “annoyed”: “She told me: the failure of politics, we have not been able to protect ourselves, the shops that close, they can take it out on us, we have not been able to the beds. I told ourselves but it’s not true, we hold up perfectly ”. But she herself knows that this is not the case.
From the reconstruction made by the investigators it seems that in this affair the governor of Sicily, Nello Musumeci, was not aware of these operations. Indeed, that he had been somehow deceived. There is, in particular, a conversation that the judge reports to support this thesis. Less than two weeks ago, on March 19, Razza warned Musumeci of the need to make Palermo a red zone. The two discuss the numbers, the need to warn the mayor of the Sicilian capital and the regional assembly. Then, however, Razza disappears and when, the next day, Musumeci asks him for information, he replies with other data that seem to prevent, and will in fact prevent, the red zone in the city.
The investigating judge: “Citizens are not allowed to know the truth”
What the practical consequences of data manipulation have been is too early to tell. Perhaps with certainty you will never know. But – whether it was in an attempt to avoid the red zone or to make ends meet that, instead, did not add up due to disorganization – an element remains. In several cases, an altered cross-section of the Covid situation in Sicily was presented. In his conclusions, the investigating judge writes: “It is, in fact, likely and highly probable that the alteration of relevant data has prevented the adoption of more severe and effective containment measures and, in any case, citizens have been denied the possibility of get information correctly on the real impact of the pandemic on the territory and act accordingly “.