Rome

Italy Senate rejects law jailing journalists for defamation

Vote by secret ballot rejects prison term for journalists

Italy Senate rejects law jailing journalists for defamation

Rome, November 26 - The Italian Senate rejected a draft law Monday that would have sent journalists to prison for defamation. The secret ballot saw the Senate reject the law with 123 votes against the bill to 29 in favour, and nine abstentions. However, members of former premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party complained the secret ballot meant some politicians were "hiding" their choices from the public. The defamation bill came the same day that Italian journalist Alessandro Sallusti announced that he is facing house arrest after receiving 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 saying he faced house arrest, he remained free Monday afternoon. Milan prosecutors have asked a court to place Sallusti under house arrest. Sallusti said he is already appealing because he cannot cover the news from home. In September, Italy's highest appeals 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.

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