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Italian journalists sentenced to jail for defamation


Rome, May 23 - A Milan-based journalist has been
sentenced to eight months in jail after judges found him guilty
of defamation, Il Giornale daily paper said on Thursday.
Outrage was swift to the conviction of Giorgio Mule',
editor of the weekly news magazine Panorama, which is owned by
ex-premier Silvo Berlusconi.
Another journalist, Andrea Marcenaro, was sentenced to one
year in jail in connection with the same article published in
2010 that allegedly defamed Palermo prosecutor Francesco
The latest convictions follow a similar defamation trial
that led last year to a 14-month jail term for Alessandro
Sallusti, and provoked anger over Italy's laws that imprison
Sallusti - editorial director of Il Giornale, which is also
owned by Berlusconi - saw his sentence commuted late last year
by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.
The president said at the time that he wanted to "remedy an
evidently delicate situation (and) prompt a reflection to
achieve better balanced legislation".
A court last September 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.
Mule', who is likely to appeal, was convicted in connection
with an article written by Marcenaro and was also ordered to pay
20,000 euro compensation to a Palermo prosecutor.
Politicians of all stripes condemned the court's decision.
A member of Berlusconi's political party, the People of
Freedom (PdL) called the convictions "staggering".
And Vannino Chiti, a Democratic Party senator, said that
sending journalists to jail for defamation "is a mistake that
democracy can no longer allow".
Instead, said Chiti, legislation should be designed to
protect against defamatory information through the use of fines.

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