ROME Nov 22 Italian journalists plan to strike
next week to protest against a law that would send them to jail
for defamation but would let editors off with a fine, the
journalists' union said on Thursday.
The Senate earlier passed an amendment to a bill that would
set a maximum sentence of a year in jail for anyone convicted of
defamation, while editors-in-chief and managing editors face a
maximum fine of 50,000 euros ($64,400) or 20,000 euros
The measure must be approved by the Chamber of Deputies to
become law. Italy has more than 20,000 full-time reporters,
according to the Journalists' Guild.
Franco Siddi, secretary general of the union, said in a
statement that there must be "an immediate and strong reaction
by all of Italian journalism against the dark page written today
at the Senate".
Debate over Italy's already severe defamation penalties was
ignited in September when Alessandro Sallusti, editor-in-chief
of the newspaper owned by four-time Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi's brother, was sentenced to 14 months in prison for a
libellous article printed in 2007, when he was in charge of
That prompted both President Giorgio Napolitano and Justice
Minister Paola Severino to say they agreed that sanctions for
defamation should be reduced.
But a series of scandals have hit several lawmakers, who
have been openly resentful of the treatment they received in the
media, prompting many Senators to support the amendment that
would put reporters in prison.
($1 = 0.7761 euros)
(Reporting by Steve Scherer and Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by