The Italian town of Amatrice, which was hit by a deadly earthquake in August, is pursuing legal action against Charlie Hebdo for a cartoon that depicted the victims of the earthquake as different varieties of pasta. Almost 300 people were killed in the earthquake and the cartoon prompted widespread anger across Italy after it was published.
The cartoon, entitled: Earthquake Italian Style, featured a bleeding man with the caption: Penne in tomato sauce; a swollen woman entitled: Penne au gratin; and people crushed between layers of a building dubbed: Lasagna.
Mario Cicchetti, a lawyer for Amatrice city hall, told Reuters that local government had referred to the cartoons as a "macabre, senseless and absurd insult to all the victims". A local prosecutor has been asked to investigate Charlie Hebdo on charges of "aggravated defamation", for which the town would seek civil damages.
When Italians reacted in fury over the earthquake cartoon, the satirical French magazine published a second cartoon showing a half-buried victim under rubble with the caption: Italians ... it's not Charlie Hebdo who built your homes, it's the mafia!
Despite the fact that the cartoons were published in France, Cicchetti said that the legal proceedings could be brought in Italy due to it being widely shared and seen in the country. The magistrates in Rieti, a city near Amatrice, will now decide whether to take up the investigation against Charlie Hebdo's cartoonists and director.
Roughly 2,500 people were left homeless after the 6.2 magnitude earthquake, making it the largest earthquake to hit the country since 2009. Hundreds are now said to be living in tents in the mountains and the urgency of the situation is rising as winter looms.
Reacting after the earthquake, Amatrice mayor Sergio Pirozzi told local media: "Half the village has disappeared. The aim is now to save as many lives as possible. There are voices under the rubble, we have to save the people there."