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Saturday 24 March 2018

Quake-hit Italian town files complaint over Charlie Hebdo cartoon

Damaged buildings in the town of Amatrice, central Italy, after an earthquake (AP)
Damaged buildings in the town of Amatrice, central Italy, after an earthquake (AP)

The Italian town hit by last month's earthquake has filed a defamation complaint denouncing French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo for a cartoon depicting victims in layers of lasagne.

Mario Cicchetti, a lawyer who represents Amatrice, said that he lodged the complaint about the "macabre" cartoons at the prosecutors' office in Rieti, the provincial capital.

Charlie Hebdo published two cartoons with obvious reference to Amatrice, a hill town where most of the 295 people killed in the August 24 quake lived and which is famed for a tomato sauce, amatriciana, made from the cheeks of locally raised pigs and pecorino cheese.

One cartoon showed arms and legs protruding from between layers of lasagne, and sauce-splattered survivors. The other, depicting rubble, was captioned: "It's not Charlie Hebdo that built your homes. It's the Mafia."

Prosecutors will decide whether the defamation complaint has merit.

They are already investigating why so many buildings collapsed, to see if seismic-safety rules in the quake-prone central Apennine mountains area were followed or if corruption or other wrongdoing might have been involved in awarding construction contracts or building inspection certificates.

"The cartoons are macabre, senseless and incomprehensible," Mr Cicchetti said, contending that they express "contempt for victims of a natural disaster".

Those defamed by the cartoons, the lawyer contended, are "the dead, the survivors. They each lost three, four people - relatives, children, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, friends", Mr Cicchetti added.

A lawyer for Charlie Hebdo, Richard Malka, said he would not comment until he has been formally notified about the complaint.


Press Association

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