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Bolzano. Four months in jail on libel charges. The FNSI protests: It is absurd!

The editor and the former director of the newspaper “L’Alto Adige” have been convicted at first instance for a news story concerning 2008 investigations against a provincial councillor who sued without even asking for a correction.

The decision by the Court of Bolzano, which has condemned the journalists of the daily L‘Alto Adige, Orfeo Donatini and Tiziano Marson, to four months imprisonment and to pay a fine for libel, has provoked a harsh reaction by the FNSI. The editor and the former director were sued by a provincial councillor for a story published in 2008. NO corrections whatsoever have been requested before the complaint was submitted. The FNSI (the unitary trade union of Italian journalists) considers this a case that proves the how necessary are the reforms to the law on corrections and law on libel. On behalf of the journalists of the Trentino Alto Adige region, Stephan Wallisch was entrusted to the appellate decision to eliminate “the feeling of a fumus persecutionis”.

In 2008 Orpheus Donatini wrote that Sven Knoll, the Bolzano provincial councillor and member of the Suedtiroler Freiheit, was under police investigation for its possible close ties to the far-right. The same news, the journalist argued, had already been reported by a nationally distributed magazine and was based on a confidential police document.

“The timely publication of denials, responses, adjustments, and corrections, as stated by Article 8 of the Press law, should be sufficient – the FNSI sustains – to prevent any judicial action, may it be criminal or civil. The appeal to the Judiciary, which is now permanent, for alleged defamation and consequently for alleged damages may greatly limit the right to press freedom and the exercise of journalism. You must take note that this state of affairs can not possibly continue. And once again reiterate to the Government and Parliament, and in particular the Minister of Justice, to intervene with a decision that can no longer be postponed. “

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