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Italian City Files Defamation Complaint Over Charlie Hebdo Earthquake Cartoons

One cartoon depicts the victims of the August quake as layers of lasagna, prompting an outcry from those who say the French magazine was insensitive to tragedy.

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The Italian city hardest hit by an earthquake in August that killed 295 people has filed a criminal defamation complaint against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for a cartoon depicting victims between layers of lasagna.

This is not satire anymore, this is pure disrespect for those who lost their lives, I'm disgusted #CharlieHebdo

An attorney who represents the town of Amatrice told the Associated Press that he filed the complaint with the prosecutors' office in the provincial capital.

"The cartoons are macabre, senseless and incomprehensible," Mario Cicchetti told AP, adding that they express "contempt for victims of a natural disaster."

It’s now up to prosecutors to determine whether the complaint has merit.

Many people in Italy took to social media after the cartoons published to criticize Charlie Hebdo, calling the images insensitive at best.

#CharlieHebdo satira indecente su vittime terremoto #Amatrice la grande sofferenza non insegna il rispetto del dolore?#jenesuispascharlie

La vignetta di Charlie Hebdo suinmorti del terremoto in Centro Italia semplicemente indecente

Comments on Charlie Hebdo's Facebook page used much stronger language.

The outrage was such that the French Embassy in Italy released a statement saying the cartoons were not representative of France's position.

Italians were not alone in their anger.

Wow #CharlieHebdo, your cartoon on the #earthquake in Central Italy manages to be both disgusting and outrageous. Shame on you, shame on you

Satire is hard to do well. This was not well done. It's al dente. #CharlieHebdo

Charlie Hebdo experienced its own tragedy last year in January, when Islamist gunmen stormed its offices in Paris and killed 12 people in retaliation for the magazine’s depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.

It remained defiant immediately afterward, with its first cover after the attack featuring an image of the Muslim prophet in tears while holding a sign that stated "Je suis Charlie."

And its first cover after the November Paris attacks that killed 129 people featured the image of a man drinking as champagne flowed from his bullet-ridden body, accompanied by the phrase: "They have weapons… Fuck them, we have champagne!"

Later on Friday, in response to the reaction of its earthquake cover, Charlie Hebdo again doubled down, publishing a second cartoon on its Facebook page that states: "Italians, it is not Charlie Hebdo that built your homes, it's the mafia!"

It was quickly shared and commented on thousands of times.

An attorney for Charlie Hebdo told the AP he would not comment until he has been formally notified about the defamation complaint.

Alberto Nardelli is Europe editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Alberto Nardelli at alberto.nardelli@buzzfeed.com.

Jason Wells is deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Jason Wells at jason.wells@buzzfeed.com.

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