Page last updated at 01:25 GMT, Monday, 16 June 2008 02:25 UK

Court warns Italian TV prankster

Condoms, file pic
Safe sex through the use of condoms is part of Gabriele Paolini's message

Prolific Italian TV prankster and condom advocate Gabriele Paolini faces a prison sentence unless he behaves.

Mr Paolini has made a career of popping up uninvited behind unwitting on-air TV reporters promoting condom use.

Guinness World Records says Mr Paolini is the world's most successful TV hijacker, interrupting 20,000 link-ups.

But now Italy's Supreme Court has upheld a three-month suspended sentence on him for interrupting a report on the state broadcaster RAI in June 2001.

The court has also ruled that anyone who deliberately gets onto TV while standing in a public place can commit an offence even if they are silent and immobile.

'Prophylactic prophet'

While Mr Paolini has made a name for himself by bobbing about and generally disrupting reporters' efforts to be serious, he is more than just an attention-seeker, says the BBC's Mark Duff in Milan.

He calls himself the prophylactic prophet - not just because his antics often involve condoms, but because he sees his capers as a way of drawing attention to the plight of Aids sufferers.

It was the death of a friend from the disease which launched him on his career of disruption.

Even before the court's ruling, Mr Paolini had not always had things his own way, our correspondent says: reporters have been known to lash out at him in frustration, sometimes on camera.

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Country profile: Italy
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