(ANSA) - Rome, March 13 - Italy's supreme Court of Cassation
ruled Thursday that journalists cannot be imprisoned for
defamation without "exceptional circumstances".
Otherwise, the court ruled, their role as "public watchdog"
is put in jeopardy.
The court underlined that the decision reflects that of the
European Court of Human Rights.
A number of journalists have been sentenced to jail for
defamation in Italy in recent years, but none with a higher
profile than Alessandro Sallusti.
The editorial director of Il Giornale, which is owned by
three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi, was sentenced to a
14-month jail term in 2012, provoking widespread condemnation.
His sentence was later commuted by Italian President
Giorgio Napolitano, who said at the time that he wanted to
"remedy an evidently delicate situation (and) prompt a
reflection to achieve better balanced legislation".
A court had ruled that Sallusti was guilty of printing
libellous remarks made by an anonymous reader about a judge in
Libero, the right-wing paper he edited in 2007.
The comments concerned a ruling to grant a 13-year-old the
right to have an abortion.
(photo: Alessandro Sallusti)