Libel. Italian president commutes editor’s jail term in a fine
ROME – Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Friday commuted a controversial 14-month jail term handed last september to newspaper editor Alessandro Sallusti. The case has provoked widespread alarm about the fact that it is possible for an editor to go to prison for libel in Italy.
“With the measure commutation of the sentence of imprisonment,” the President of the Republic “intended to avoid a situation of obvious sensitivity” and” encouraged” a “reflection” of lawmakers for reach “rules more balanced” about crimes of defamation in the press.
The decision to commute the prison sentence also receives advanced critical guidelines at European level, in particular from the Council of Europe, compared to the use of prison sentences against journalists. The President of the Republic also estimated that the political will, expressed in the Parliament in bipartisan bills and supported by the government, has not yet resulted in legislation, and this is due to the difficulty of identifying – being understood the obligation to rectify – a balance between the attenuation of the severity of sanctions and the adoption of effective measures for compensation.
In the specific case of Sallusti, the President of the Republic points out that he has taken into account the public statements made by the victim of defamation and that he is aware that the paper on which the article judged defamatory was published, after the condemnation of his former editor has recognized the falsity of the news and formalized, with the rectify, even an apology.
“I thank President Napolitano. Accept grace. This precedent should apply to all journalists and it is a clear indication to the judges and politicians, “said Sallusti that for some days was serving his sentence under house arrest.