ECHR rules in favour of Italian journalist
The Court ruled defamation conviction was in violation of the right to freedom of expression
24 Sep 13

The European Court of Human Rights have today ruled in favour of an Italian journalist sued for defamation, citing Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights which protects the right to freedom of expression.

Maurizio Belpietro was convicted in Italy on defamation charges for a story published in national newspaper Quotidiano Nazionale in 2004, when he was paper’s director. The story, penned by an Italian senator, accused Italian judges and prosecutors ‘of using political strategies in their fight against the Mafia.’

Two prosecutors sued both Belpietro and the senator in question, arguing the article was defamatory. The latter was acquitted on the basis that he had written the article in his role as a senator. Belpietro, while also initially acquitted, was in 2009 given a suspended 4-month jail sentence, as well as being ordered to pay substantial sums to the plaintiffs. His appeal was dismissed in 2010.

Belpietro took the case to the European Court of Human Rights, which today ruled that the conviction was in violation of Article 10. He was awarded €10,000 in non-pecuniary damage and €5,000 for costs and expenses.