On December 21st 2010, the Court of Turin, bringing to an end a case that had gone on for years, acquitted Yesmoke, defended by the attorney Andrea Voltolini, and all the defendants, from the accusation of “contraband through Internet,” because “il fatto non sussiste” – the fact does not exist.
Yesmoke from 2000 to 2004, when it was a Swiss online tobacco vendor, world leader in the sector, sold legally, but in open conflict with Philip Morris, 300 million packs of Marlboros through Internet, shipped from Switzerland to the United States and to most of the other countries of the world, excepting Italy.
The «Internet Smoking» Inquiry
The order was given at dawn on Friday, December 17th 2004: the police, with the excuse of the fight against smuggling, arrived at the homes of the Italian owners of Yesmoke. The intention was to make them understand that:
“The sale online of Marlboros, from Switzerland to the USA, was highly imprudent…”
The “Internet Smoking” investigation had begun and the trial that followed was to draw on for six long years, with wire tapping, shadowing, searches, false evidence and violations of preliminary hearings. All in line with the classic Italiot judicial rituals.
The Reaction of Big Tobacco
In the States, Philip Morris had not gone past a sentence against Yesmoke for “Copyright violation,” as the Swiss site had sold in the United States Marlboro cigarettes destined by the manufacturer to other markets, products with different tastes and different secret chemical compositions. But the American Post Office continued delivering the cigarettes, in the name of the Federal Law that guarantees the right to import cigarettes for personal use.
Italy, on the other hand, took Philip Morris’s “problem” much more seriously. It was the only country where Yesmoke’s owners, and along with them, their collaborators, designers, consultants and errand boys, ended up on trial for “the contraband of cigarettes over Internet.” This was Italy, the only country where Yesmoke did not send its cigarettes.
As if this were not enough, the owners were presented with a bill for unpaid taxes on Marlboros allegedly sent to Italy: 23 million euro, based on totally invented calculations.