Isernia. Two journalists sued for having published a photograph
Francesco Bottone (ecoaltomolise) and the Chief Editor D’Ottavio came to trial following Nunzia Zarlenga’s complaint. For the magistrate a historical image is not defamatory
On July 10, 2015, the magistrate of the Court of Isernia has filed the proceedings for libel against the journalist of ecoaltomolise, Francesco Bottone, and the chief editor of the online magazine, Maurizio D’Ottavio. The two had been sued in February 2015 by Nunzia Zarlenga, former deputy mayor of Agnone (in the province of Isernia), who challenged the publication of a photo used in support of various items. According to Zarlenga the photo, in which she appears sitting next to the president of the Molise Region – Paolo Frattura – on a public occasion, would be detrimental to her honor and her dignity, would undermine her credibility and “suggest that there is closeness and commonality of interests with the President Frattura”, to which the former deputy mayor of Agnone had for a period offered her political support.
For the magistrate, the photo depicts a “historical event that actually happened and is likely to be used as an archive image in newspaper articles that speak of Frattura”; therefore, the evolution of the political relationship between Zarlenga and the president of the Region “can not attribute, retroactively, the defamatory character of the photograph.”
“It is a paradoxical affair – Bottone told Ossigeno – It is absurd – by the way – that a journalist, despite being innocent and having worked properly, can be dragged to a trial for which he has to sustain expenses.”
“The considerations expressed by Mr. Bottone are relevant and entirely acceptable. Now, at an exponential rate, we have to record episodes of intolerance towards freedom of information. A member of the political establishment brings a journalist to court just because he published a picture of a public event like a political demonstration. And which photo should be allowed to be published? Where would the defamation be? And, in fact, the judges have considered the lawsuit not even worthy of a debating in a Tribunal.”
Back in March 2015 the prosecutor of the Court of Isernia had asked that the proceedings be filed, but the lawyers had presented Zarlenga’s opposition.