Row after mother told of girl's death live on Italian TV

Image caption,
Concetta Serrano had made a number of appeals for information about Sarah

An Italian TV show has sparked controversy after a woman was told her daughter was dead in a live broadcast.

Concetta Serrano was on the programme Chi l'ha visto to talk about her daughter, 15-year-old Sarah Scazzi, who had disappeared on 26 August.

As news came in, the presenter told Ms Serrano that her brother-in-law had just confessed to killing Sarah and that a body had been found.

Viewers said they were disgusted, speechless and appalled.

One comment on YouTube read: "This is not information. This is a barbaric invasion of someone's grief."

Ms Serrano's anguish over her missing daughter had gripped the nation for weeks, as she appealed to the public for information.

About 3.5 million people tuned in to the programme, which investigates missing people and airs on the state-run RAI network.

The missing teenager's mother was being interviewed live from the southern town of Avetrana, from the home of her brother-in-law, Michele Misseri, although he was not present.

It turned out that he and his wife were at that time being interrogated by police.

Ms Serrano appeared in shock when the presenter told her that a news agency report suggested her sister's husband had confessed.

She said she did not believe it, but when attempts were made to call Misseri's mobile phone, there was no answer.

It was not until eight minutes later that Ms Serrano was asked if she would like to go home, and she said she would. The broadcast continued for another three minutes.

The channel controller, Paolo Ruffini, defended the actions of the Chi l'ha visto team.

"The programme tried to manage a very tragic affair in the most delicate possible way," he said, "and I have to say the presenter achieved it."

Presenter Federica Sciarelli conceded that it must have been terrible for the mother to have learned this news from a journalist.

Mr Misseri is being held by police in the nearby town of Taranto.

It is reported that the family are hoping to hold Sarah's funeral at the weekend.