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Italy11 August 2003

Thugs attack Sicilian journalist who had been investigating drug trafficking

Reporters Without Borders today voiced concern about an assault on Massimiliano Pisano, a journalist based in Giardini Naxos in eastern Sicily who has been writing about drug trafficking in the area.

A correspondent for the Catania-based daily La Sicilia, Pisano was waylaid by three thugs as he left a discotheque near Recanati at 10 a.m. on 7 August. They referred to his enquiries into drug dealing in local discotheques as they gave him a severe beating. He was hospitalised in Taormina and has had to take 10 days off work. The Taormina carabinieri are investigating.

"This attack is a reminder of the often mortal danger that organised crime represents for journalists in Sicily, who have to do their job in extremely difficult conditions," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said. He called on the authorities to "respond firmly to this worrying situation, so that a feeling of impunity does not take hold."

Gina Mauro, the newspaper’s chief editor in Messina, said Pisano had recently received several anonymous threats after writing many articles on local drug trafficking. Local correspondents ran considerable risk, he said, adding: "We would like to have conditions of work that allowed us to guarantee our readers the right to news."

Giuseppe Alfano, a reporter with La Sicilia who specialised in writing about the Mafia, was killed on 8 January 1993 by a shot fired into his mouth, a method of execution used by the Mafia for those deemed to have "talked to much."

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