Italian broadcaster under fire over leaked footage of cable car crash

Italy’s public broadcaster Rai has come under fire for broadcasting leaked CCTV footage of a fatal cable car crash that killed 14 people near Stresa, in the north of Italy.

Last month, the cable car connecting the Lake Maggiore resort town of Stresa to a nearby mountain plunged to the ground, killing all onboard apart from a five-year-old Israeli boy who remains in hospital.

On Wednesday, Rai TV aired a video of the accident showing the cabin nearing its final stop before speeding back and crashing to the ground.

Prosecutors in the city of Verbania – who have opened an investigation into suspected involuntary manslaughter and negligence – said the decision to publish the video was “an absolute inappropriateness”.

According to reports, the CCTV footage was first aired on a news programme on the Italian channel Rai 3, with the cabin blurred. After that, the clip has been shown in full or in part on the internet by several other Italian media, with only some blurring the victims’ faces.

In a note to the press, the prosecutor Olimpia Bossi said “relatives had not been informed and the broadcast of the footage was prohibited”.

“The suffering of the victims’ families cannot and must not be further exacerbated by actions such as this,” Bossi added, as the Italian data protection authority has urged media organisations and social media users to stop sharing the footage.

Several members of parliament called for an explanation from the broadcaster, citing a “total disrespect for the victims and their family members’’.

The former education minister for the Democratic party Valeria Fedeli said in a statement that the violation of the ban was serious as “it was carried out by public service providers”.

The head of Rai, Marcello Foa, said he would “carefully evaluate all the implications, starting with the ethical ones, and the respect due to the victims and their families”.

Italian police arrested three senior managers from the cable car operating company. They are accused of deliberately deactivating the emergency brake that should have prevented the cabin from falling backwards when the cable snapped.

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