Lance Armstrong is called to appear before an Italian court on charges of defamation of Italian ride
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Lance Armstrong has been called to trial by an Italian court facing defamation charges after losing a preliminary hearing against Italian rider Filippo Simeoni. The trial stems from comments Armstrong made to the French newspaper Le Monde in 2003, specifically his description of Simeoni as a “liar” after the Italian had given evidence in court against controversial sports doctor Michele Ferrari, who worked closely with Armstrong.
On Wednesday, the court judge Nicola Insiti rejected a claim by Armstrong’s legal team and ordered a hearing to be held in Latina, near Rome, on March 7.
“The judge decided that even though Armstrong’s comments were published in France the act of defamation against Simeoni occurred when Simeoni read the newspaper via the internet,” Simeoni’s lawyer, Giuseppe Napoleone, told Reuters.
Simeoni, whose career has become inextricably linked with Armstrong’s after the American chased him down in a break in the last week of the 2004 Tour de France, welcomed the court’s decision. “Sooner or later the truth always comes out and justice will be done,” he told Italian agency ANSA. “I’m relaxed and still feel I am in the right. I’m waiting for March 7 with confidence.”
Armstrong’s lawyer, Enrico Nan, said he would fight the location of the trial, which will be in Simeoni’s home town. The seven-time Tour de France winner will not have to attend the trial but could face a jail sentence of between one and six years if found guilty.