World Press Photo Withdraws Controversial Award

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Acting on new information, World Press Photo has revoked the award it bestowed on Giovanni Troilo’s controversial series of images about the city of Charleroi in Belgium.

The decision comes just three days after the Dutch organization conducted an investigation into allegations that some of Troilo’s images had been staged. At that time, World Press Photo upheld the original award, as the organization was unable to find “grounds for doubting the photographer’s integrity in carrying out his work,” it said in a statement.

But, as TIME revealed on Monday, World Press Photo’s investigation was flawed: the organization only relied on testimony from the photographer and the mayor of Charleroi to ascertain whether Troilo’s pictures had been staged.

Following these revelations, and acting on new information provided by photojournalists Thomas Van Den Driessche and Bruno Stevens, who conducted their own investigations, World Press Photo has now concluded that Troilo’s story “was not in compliance with the entry rules and therefore the award must be revoked,” the group said in a statement.

“Troilo submitted his story, titled ‘La Ville Noir – The Dark Heart of Europe,’ to the 2015 Photo Contest as a story about the Belgian city of Charleroi,” the statement said. “However, World Press Photo learned that the photo of a painter creating a work with live models had instead been shot in Molenbeek, Brussels. Troilo confirmed over telephone and email that the image had not been taken in Charleroi, contrary to what he submitted to the contest. This falsified information is a violation of the 2015 Photo Contest entry rules.”

The World Press Photo contest “must be based on trust in the photographers who enter their work and in their professional ethics,” managing director Lars Boering said in a statement. “We have checks and controls in place, of course, but the contest simply does not work without trust. We now have a clear case of misleading information and this changes the way the story is perceived. A rule has now been broken and a line has been crossed.”

As a result of Troilo’s disqualification, Giulio Di Sturco’s series on Chollywood has been promoted from 2nd Prize to 1st Prize in the Contemporary Issues category, and Tomas van Houtryve’s Blue Sky Days from 3rd Prize to 2nd Prize.

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