5 February 2004


RSF condemns police search of journalists' homes and offices

Incident details

Massimo Martinelli, Fiorenza Sarzanini


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(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has protested the violation of journalists' right to protect their sources following the police search of the homes and offices of two journalists.

The police searches targeted Massimo Martinelli, of the daily "Il Messaggero", and Fiorenza Sarzanini, of the daily "Corriere della Sera", in Rome. They were ordered by the Prosecutor's Office in Perugia, central Italy on 4 February 2004.

Both journalists are accused of breaking legal confidentiality rules relating to an investigation into the death of a doctor suspected of having ordered another person to commit a series of murders.

"The Italian courts have often violated the principle of the protection of sources, which is fundamental in ensuring independent investigative journalism," said RSF. "The European Court of Human Rights views searches of homes and offices of journalists as contrary to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights in the absence of a 'pressing social need'. It is obvious that the searches were not in that category and were in fact an unacceptable attack on press freedom," the organisation added.

At the end of January 2004, both Sarzanini and Martinelli wrote articles about the investigation into the death of a doctor suspected of being behind the satanic ritual murder of eight couples in the Tuscany countryside between 1968 and 1985. The murders were carried out by a man nicknamed the "Monster of Florence". The journalists are accused of revealing information in the enquiry evidence in breach of legal confidentiality rules.

During the searches, police copied information found on Martinelli's computers, seized notebooks containing notes of the investigation and took numbers found on his mobile phone. They also read documents relating to the "Monster of Florence" on Sarzanini's work computer, but did not copy them. The journalists refused to reveal their sources.


Reporters Without Borders
47, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris, France
rsf (@) rsf.org

Fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51
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