Earthquake-hit Italian town Amatrice to sue Charlie Hebdo for "aggravated defamation"

The satirical French magazine was criticised for publishing cartoons mocking the 300 victims of the recent earthquake

Earthquake-hit Italian town Amatrice to sue Charlie Hebdo for "aggravated defamation"


Amatrice, the Italian town where nearly 300 people were killed in last month’s deadly earthquake, is set to sue the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo over a cartoon that portrayed the victims as various forms of pasta and for suggesting the mafia was to blame for the casualties.

One of the cartoons, which were widely condemned online, was called Earthquake Italian Style, and featured sketches of an injured man in bandages subtitles as “Penne in tomato sauce,” an injured woman as “Penne au gratin,” while a collapsed building with people inside was portrayed as “Lasagne.”

After the Italian press caught wind of the images and people all over the country reacted with criticism, the magazine, which is infamous for its take-no-prisoners approach to provocative and line-crossing satire, chose to publish a second cartoon. This time, it featured another person half-buried under the Amatrice rubble, with the phrase: “Italians... it’s not Charlie Hebdo who built your homes, it’s the mafia!”

The two cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo [Twitter]

Italy has long been plagued by a number of construction scandals that have linked inattention to safety regulations with organised crime groups.

The local government has asked prosecutors to launch an official investigation into the magazine for “aggravated defamation,” a crime for which its publishers would be liable for civil damages. Although the offending images were published in France, Amatrice city hall lawyer Mario Cicchetti believes a legal case could be pursued in Italy, where the cartoons have been widely shared.

Charlie Hebdo became a focal point for the values of free speech in early 2015, when 12 people were executed in its offices in Paris by religious extremists who accused its editors and artists of blasphemy for publishing cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Cicchetti said that it is now up to the magistrates based in Rieti, a city close to Amatrice, to come to a decision about how to pursue the cartoonists and the director of Charlie Hebdo.

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