Chatting with the Devil's Advocate
Giovanni di Stefano is possibly the world's most controversial lawyer and music producer. Nicknamed the Devil's Advocate, he's defended Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Harold Shipman and Gary Glitter, plus he ran a Serbian football team in the 90s. I gave Giovanni a call last week and we chatted about hanging out with Saddam, commanding an army during the Balkan wars and my parents' sex life.
Vice: As an Italian kid what was it like growing up in England in the 50s?
Giovanni di Stefano: When I was nine I passed my 11-plus but they made me sit it again because they thought: "What Italian can pass his 11-plus?" Of course, I passed it again anyway. Mr Corby who was the headmaster at the time wrote in my report that “This boy will never make anything of himself", so what I did to show my parents was delete two words so it read: “This boy will make something of himself". Fuck him, he hated us. He was kept as a prisoner of war by the Japanese, but what the fuck the Italians had to do with that I don’t know. They had strung him up by his thumbs, so he had these inverted thumbs, but what an eight-year-old boy had to do with it I don’t know. I wasn’t even fucking born.
You've defended some of the most hated figures on the planet. How did you get into the position where you ended up working with them?
Well, they asked me. I didn’t go to Milosevic and I certainly didn’t go to Saddam. I didn’t go to Tariq Aziz, and I didn’t go to Nicholas van Hoogstraten. I was approached by them.
Are there any clients where you took the case and you thought they had no chance of winning?
All of them. The last one I just did was Kenny Starr, the celebrity accountant to the stars. He was like a mini-Madoff but I struck a deal with the prosecutions office in New York so that instead of 442 years, he got between six and eight years in prison. There’s a reason why that is and that’s because I said in court that if it went to trial, I was going to bring all his big clients like Uma Thurman, Wesley Snipes and Sly Stallone that entrusted this man with their money and ask them: “Do you have a certificate of madness, have you ever been certified mad? If not, then you’re in a good frame of mind. Can you afford the loss that has been incurred?” They’re all big earners and this is not like the Madoff case where he stole money from pensioners. In the end he agreed and we struck a deal.
I acted for Ian Brady and I was honoured to do so because I was acting for him in his quest to die. That fucker should have died long ago for what he did and for what he continues to believe in. I told him that he should die, I would be willing to put a bullet in his head if the state ordered me to. So, in his case we are looking for the right to die which I sustain he does have and stopping him from doing that is costing you, the taxpayer, £800,000 a year just in legal fees. That’s not being paid to me, by the way.
[caption id="attachment_20489" align="aligncenter" width="635" caption="Saddam Hussein"][/caption]
How did you initially come to be friends with Saddam Hussein?
I was invited in March 1998 to advise on the weapons inspectors coming to his homes. It was absurd to think that anyone would place weapons of such nature in their own home. They could easily be used and abused by servants, or those that wanted Saddam dead.
What did Saddam like to do to have fun and unwind?
Like all men, wine (whiskey actually), women and song. And football.
Did you ever get drunk with Saddam?
Of course I never got drunk with His Excellency President Saddam Hussein. I don't drink.
Did he ever talk to you about WMDs?
It was obvious to all he had no WMDs. He would claim that he never even had a Game Boy in his houses, let alone weapons of mass destruction.
Who would win in a fist fight, Saddam or George W. Bush?
In a fist fight with Bush? Saddam any frigging day.
So what was Saddam like during the trial?
Well, he knew he had to die. I had a tremendous amount of respect for him, at trial he was a man of dignity; he died with dignity, a kind of dignity which I think I would lack I that situation. He set an example that others could follow, a death that he gave for his country. When he died, Iraq died and now there isn’t a fucking day without a bomb, and that never happened before. He may have killed 50,000 people in 30 years, but these bastards have killed nearly a million in five years.
Where you there for Saddam’s execution?
No, but I was there to see Barzan Al Tikriti and Awad al-Bandar die. They weren’t very nice because Banzan’s head came off. He had spinal cancer and I told those bastards that the man was going to die in six months. The proof of the pudding was of course that once the cancer hits your spine, you only need a punch in the head and you could break your neck because the spine is rotten. It was stupid and there was a huge pile of blood. Another client of mine, Chemical Ali, was also executed, but I was out of the country at the time and while I was away he renounced his defence and stay of execution, so they killed him without me being there. I was so pissed off. What you don’t know about Chemical Ali, is that his wife and daughter had been raped and disemboweled in Syria, so the man didn’t have anything to live for. They were killed in an act of retaliation for something he had done. Now, in my personal opinion, if I do something wrong, why the hell should my family have to pay for it?
I read that you were also defending the PMC group Blackwater in their trial after they supposedly killed some Iraqi civilians. Do you see that as a conflict of interest?
Well, they actually protected me whilst I was out there for the first few years and then the American military took over. I never trusted the PMCs at all, but as the saying goes: “As long as there’s a gown, there’s a defence”.
Would you defend anyone?
Well yes, I’ll defend anyone. I’ll defend you. If I’m asked I’m duty bound to accept, I have no choice but to accept, I can’t say no. Although, when Ian Huntley asked me for his advice on the two murders... Now this may sound controversial to you, but I believe that Mr Huntley was guilty of manslaughter of the first killing and murder only for the second. But if I was to take his case and look into his appeal, at best it would’ve taken me to manslaughter on count one, for which he would have got ten years and murder on count two, for which he would’ve got life, so what’s the fucking difference? There was no point.
[caption id="attachment_20521" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Ian Huntley"][/caption]
Now, with such a long list of hated clients have you ever received threats to your life?
Of course, yeah, all the time. At this stage now in 2010 I work for ETA, for Islamic Jihad, I act for HAMAS, the PLO, I was friends with Arafat for years, for the FARC rebels in Columbia, for the TAMILs, I act for a number of terrorist organisations as a lawyer, I act for the IRA and the Red Brigades and most of the major terror groups across the world.
[caption id="attachment_20524" align="aligncenter" width="431" caption="Gary Glitter"][/caption]
Explain to me why you took up Garry Glitter's case?
Well, let’s get things into perspective. What has Gary Glitter done? He has downloaded 2,000 images on his computer of kids in unusual and pornographic poses. Secondly, in a foreign country—fuck all to do with England—he’s allegedly had some youngster in the bed with him. Let’s put that to one side and ask why were the credit card companies not prosecuted and more to the point, why weren’t the photographers and the parents of the children not looked for or investigated? Once we can answer those questions and deal with the root of the problem, then you haven’t got a problem.
In Vietnam he slept with a 15-year-old girl and I don’t condone that at all. It’s not my cup of tea and it won’t ever be. Well, I don’t know, maybe when I’m 70 and I all of a sudden turn mad, but at the moment that’s not a turn on and neither is homosexuality. Just stop and think for a moment, are your parents married?
Well, they were.
OK, well your father is allowed to have a homosexual relationship with a man above the age of 16. However, if your father has anal sex with your mother that’s a criminal offence, even though they’re married.
OK, are we talking about the UK or Vietnam?
We’re talking about the UK my friend, it is a criminal offence. Your father is not allowed to have anal intercourse with your mother, or any woman in this country, but homosexual relations are not only condoned but also promoted. Now, the only way I can think of that homosexuals can have sex is by putting the penis in the anus or the mouth, so you can do it with a man but not a woman, what sense does that make? Why don’t we do something about the law? Britain states that we have judicial precedence which means the law develops as time progresses. Bollocks! The law in the UK is applied to all and interpreted for the select few and that’s true.
This is getting quite long, but he's a good talker. To be continued in part two, later this week.