Italy: Thorough investigation required after arson attack on car of journalist Rossella Puccio
The partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) today denounce the arson attack on the family car of Italian freelance journalist Rossella Puccio in the city of Palermo and express solidarity with the reporter as police work to identify the perpetrators and their motive.
The targeted attack happened during the night of April 3, while the journalist’s family car was parked in a public area in the Sferracavallo district of the city. Footage captured by a nearby CCTV camera showed a man approach the vehicle, pour liquid from a bottle over the car and light it on fire.
The car was completely destroyed in the blaze. No one claimed responsibility for the attack and the motive is currently unclear. Puccio is a freelance journalist who collaborates with several news outlets, including Palermo Today and Quotidiano di Sicilia.
Our organisations welcome the swift action of police to open a criminal investigation and urge local law enforcement and judicial authorities, working in tandem with the government’s national Coordination Centre, to treat this case as a matter of urgency. All those responsible for carrying out or planning this clear act of intimidation must be swiftly identified and held accountable.
We have reported this case to the Council of Europe Platform for the safety of journalists, and hope to see a swift response from Italian authorities to provide updates on the details of the criminal investigation. This is the fifth physical attack on journalists in Italy so far in 2023, as recorded on the Mapping Media Freedom platform.
Moreover, we note with concern that this is not the first time that Puccio has faced threats due to her work. In August 2020, she was violently assaulted by a group of people while documenting an intervention by the carabinieri to clear a tent city in the Barcarello area of Palermo. Seven attackers were later identified, and their trial began in January 2023, with the next hearing scheduled for May.
Ten years ago, in 2013, the same car was vandalised and had its wheels damaged, according to media reports. No one claimed responsibility for that incident and no one was arrested or charged. It is unclear whether any of these incidents are connected.
Our organisations join local and national journalist unions and organisations in Italy in expressing our support and solidarity with Puccio, and all journalists in Italy who face physical threats and intimidation due to their work. We will continue to monitor the situation closely in the coming weeks. We also urge relevant authorities to make sure that journalists in Italy are not subject to physical attacks and intimidations, and are free and safe to carry out their work.
This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States, Candidate Countries and Ukraine.