Dezeen Magazine

Maurizio Ribotti acquitted of drug trafficking

Maurizio Ribotti acquitted of drug trafficking

Italian prosecutors have dropped charges against the former CEO of Milan's Zona Tortona design district, two years after he was arrested at his office on suspicion of receiving a parcel containing cocaine.

Maurizio Ribotti was arrested on 23 November 2010 when police disguised as representatives of a shipping company delivered a parcel containing the drug to the office of Design Partners, the company behind Zona Tortona.

The parcel, which originated in Peru, was addressed to Ribotti who was imprisoned for three days and later kept under house arrest for three months.

An Italian judge has now cleared Ribotti after an investigation found no evidence that Ribotti was aware of the contents or had ever had any links to Peru, according to Milanese newspaper Corriere della Serra.

"I'm relieved to inform you that the nightmare surrounding my personal situation, in which I was the victim of a terrible miscarriage of justice, has finished in the best way possible," Ribotti told Dezeen. "Justice was done and, after two years, the judge found there was no case to answer. My innocence was also ackowledged by the prosecution, who asked for all charges to be dropped."

Ribotti, along with Valerio Castelli and Luca Fois, turned the former industrial district around Via Tortona in the south-west of Milan into one of the most vibrant areas of the city during the annual April furniture fair, but following Ribotti's arrest both Design Partners and the Zona Tortona brand folded.

Design events in the district are now managed by a new organisation called Tortona Design Week, which launched in 2011.

Ribotti sent Dezeen the following statement:

As you may remember, in November 2010 I was contacted by the Police because, unbeknownst to me, a package containing illicit substances was sent to my office in Milan in my name. In these cases Italian law holds the addressee of a package responsible for its contents. From the beginning, my involvement in this affair was obviously improbable – it was impossible when you consider that my life was so far away from that world and also that anyone foolish enough to send himself such a package would risk between 8 and 20 years in prison.

And thus, to my great misfortune, I was under suspicion for something which even today I can barely begin to imagine, simply because someone used my name wrongly and illegally.

Unfortunately this nightmare lasted for almost two years; 86 days of which were under house arrest and the following 18 months (although free and without any form of restriction) while waiting for the definitive judgement.

Finally, a short while ago, I was fully acquitted of all suggestion of wrongdoing and, moreover, the prosecution were the ones who asked for the charges to be dropped. Under Italian law this means I have been absolved in the fullest extent of the law.

In practical terms there are three key implications: first and foremost, my total innocence has been proven; second, that a grave miscarriage of justice has been committed against me; third, consequently, as this miscarriage of justice was recognised by the judge in his ruling I am enabled to bring a case for damages to the state for the ordeal I suffered.

This whole Kafka-esque episode has decimated my private and professional life. During these two long, hard, tortuous years I have really tried hard to be positive and to not lose hope or faith in justice; and now, thanks to my innocence and the support of my family it is all, finally OVER and over with the most resounding declaration of my innocence possible.

Today I am more motivated and determined than ever to re-find a quiet life with my family and to start my professional life again with energy and enthusiasm.