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Italian president commutes editor's libel jail term

Napolitano called for 'better balanced' legislation

21 December, 18:17
Italian president commutes editor's libel jail term (ANSA) - Rome, December 21 - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Friday commuted a controversial 14-month jail term handed 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.

"By commuting the prison sentence, the president intended to remedy an evidently delicate situation prompt a reflection to achieve better balanced legislation," read a statement by the president's office. A court in September ruled the editor of Silvio Berlusconi's family's daily Il Giornale 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.

A bill in parliament to change the law so that this is no longer possible was rejected in the Senate following amendments that meant it would have still been possible for journalists to be sent to prison for defamation .