IFJ Calls for Italy to Crack Down on Gangsters After Attack on Journalist in Sicily

The International Federation of Journalists today called for tougher action by Italian authorities to counter violations of press freedom rights in Sicily, after a journalist was attacked while covering the drug trafficking beat in the eastern parts of the island.

On 7 August, Massimiliano Pisano, a correspondent for the Catania-based daily La Sicilia, was assaulted by three men, on leaving a discotheque near Recanti. In recent weeks, Pisano had received several unidentified threats subsequent to a number of articles he had written about local drug trafficking, a topic his attackers referred to as they brutally beat him.

“Gangsters who brutalise journalists need to be brought to justice quickly and punished,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “It is vital that reporters are able to investigate freely and are able to work in safe conditions.”

The IFJ says that the local authorities need to crack down on people who threaten journalists. “We need to see a swift and uncompromising response from the police that shows this sort of attack cannot be tolerated,” said White. Pisano is being treated in hospital in Taormina, and will not be able to return to work for up to 10 days.

The IFJ is particularly concerned that the incident has an echo of the assassination ten years ago of Giuseppe Alfano, a La Sicilia reporter who specialised in writing about organised crime and the mafia. He was shot in the mouth on 8 January 1993, a method of execution used by the Mafia for those deemed to have "talked too much."

“We cannot have any return to that sort of mindless violence,” said White. “If we do, press freedom and democracy will be the losers.”

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries