Google executives to face trial in Italy: sources

MILAN Wed Nov 5, 2008 1:31pm EST

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MILAN (Reuters) - An Italian prosecutor has ordered four former and current Google officials to stand trial on charges related to a video of a taunted youth with Down syndrome posted on its Italian website, court sources said on Wednesday.

The prosecutor, Francesco Cajani, ordered the defendants to appear in a Milan court on February 3 to face charges of defamation and failure to exercise control over personal data, the sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The order comes after an investigation into a complaint filed by an Italian advocacy group for people with Down syndrome, Vividown, and the boy's father.

The video was filmed from a mobile phone and posted on the site in 2006. It shows four male high school students in the Italian city of Turin humiliating the youth.

Although official notice of the decision had yet to be received, a Google spokesman said in a statement the case risked setting a worrisome precedent. Google did not believe it should be punished for the way its site was used by third parties, he said.

When news of the case broke in July, Google said it would cooperate with prosecutors "to show that all Googlers under investigation have no involvement in the Vividown case."

The defendants include Senior Vice President David Drummond.

(Writing Gilles Castonguay; Editing by Richard Hubbard)

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