Researcher accused of fraud, embezzlement acquitted by Italian court

University of PerugiaAn Italian court has acquitted a gastroenterologist who was accused of fraud and embezzlement.  

An earlier institutional investigation into Stefano Fiorucci, based at the University of Perugia in Italy, found that he had manipulated images in publications that he allegedly used to win two million Euros of funding. The story, which has dragged on for years, has resulted in four retractions and nine expressions of concern for publications authored by Fiorucci. 

Fiorucci’s lawyer, Stefano Bagianti, told us:

…the Criminal Court of Perugia (Italy) declared that every accusation against Prof. Fiorucci was false.

Regarding the next stages of the case, he added:

…we’ll do every legal action to restore the damage suffered by my Client.

Fiorucci declined to comment.

The ruling, which followed a hearing on May 23rd (translation by One Hour Translation), reads:

…the Court DISCHARGES Stefano Fiorucci from the crimes, he stands accused of in the report, because there is no case to answer.

The court also ordered that any property seized from Fiorucci must be returned:

I hereby order the release from seizure and the return to the assignee of all that has been subject to seizure.

The University of Perugia is listed as a “civil claimant;” other “civil claimants”  are the Ministry of Education, University and Research, and Barbara Palazzetti, a co-author of Fiorucci on one of his retracted papers. We’ve contacted the university to try to learn more about its role in the case, but have not heard back.

In 90 days from the hearing, the court is due to publish what is known in Italy as a motivazione” — a detailed explanation of the court’s decision. 

Roberto Ristori, another lawyer listed on the document, sent us a statement in Italian (translated via Google):

Until the written judgment will be filed [we] are not able to make any assessment.

And here’s a Google-translate version of some reporting of the case by Perugia Today:

He was accused of fraud and embezzlement for having misled the public and private funds for research, but after a long judicial process has been completely cleared of…accusation. The gastroenterologist and assistant professor Stefano Fiorucci was acquitted by the court in Perugia…

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