Sallusti faces house arrest for defamation

Journalist to appeal order, can't work in confinement

Sallusti faces house arrest for defamation

Rome, November 26 - Italian journalist Alessandro Sallusti said Monday that he is facing house arrest, 30 days after he was handed a suspended sentence of 14 months in jail for defamation. Although Sallusti, director of the newspaper Il Giornale, posted a message on his Twitter feed, he remained free Monday afternoon. Milan prosecutors have asked a court to place Sallusti under house arrest, to be served at the home of his companion Daniela Santanche', a legislative member for former premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party. Sallusti said he is already appealing because he can't cover breaking news from home. "My lawyers will ask the judge responsible if I can continue to work and what times they leave me available: it is obvious that you can not do the (work of a news) director from 9 to 16 or 5 days a week". In September, Italy's highest appeal court confirmed the verdict handed down to Sallusti by a Milan court in 2011 for printing libellous remarks made by an anonymous reader about Italian Judge Giuseppe Cocilovo in Libero, the right-wing paper he edited in 2007. The comments concerned the decision by Cocilovo to grant a 13-year-old the right to have an abortion. The Court of Cassation ruled that Sallusti was responsible for the comment since the identity of the writer was unknown. A decision on Sallusti's future could come at any time, although the court has at least five days to consider the prosecution's application for house arrest. "The surveillance judge will decide in the coming days to accept or reject our request," while weighing whether the journalist can continue to work, said prosecutor Edmondo Bruti Liberati. Sallusti, whose colleagues in Milan hung a banner Monday urging him to be brave, complained that he already feels his freedom has been dramatically curtailed.

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