Milan

Italian newspaper editor acquitted of defying house arrest

Sallusti challenged police to take him to jail

Italian newspaper editor acquitted of defying house arrest

Milan, December 14 - Italian newspaper editor Alessandro Sallusti was acquitted on Friday of charges of evading house arrest in a protest against a defamation sentence. Sallusti was placed under house arrest after a court in September ruled the editor of Il Giornale 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. In a "symbolic gesture," Sallusti had said he was refusing a house-arrest order since he could not cover news from home, challenging police to take him to jail to serve out his 14-month defamation term. The court denied his request to serve the term in jail since new legislation banned prison sentences for his level of crime. Sallusti's case is high profile as there has been widespread alarm about the fact that it is possible for an editor to be given a jail sentence for libel. A bill in parliament to change the law so that this is no longer possible was rejected in the Senate following amendments that meant it would have still been possible for journalists to be sent to prison for defamation .

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di Sebastiano Caspanello