Al-Dura li­bel ver­dictU-turn

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SHIRLI SITBON

A PRO-IS­RAEL ac­tivist who had ac­cused French TV of forg­ing its re­port on the death of Mo­ham­mad al-Dura, the 12year-old boy killed in Gaza in 2000 who be­came an icon of the sec­ond in­tifada, has been found not guilty of defama­tion by a Paris court.

French web­site owner Philippe Karsenty had in­sisted that the France 2 re­port of the Septem­ber 2000 in­ci­dent, which showed the boy and his fa­ther crouch­ing in front of a wall amid an ex­change of fire be­tween Is­raeli forces and Pales­tinian mil­i­tants at the Net­zarim junc­tion in the Gaza Strip, was faked.

The re­port shows the fa­ther Ja­mal alDura ges­tur­ing to try to stop the shoot­ing — then cuts to a shot of the boy ly­ing in his fa­ther’s lap, with the sta­tion’s correspondent Charles En­der­lin say­ing he was killed by Is­raeli fire.

The French chan­nel later ad­mit­ted it did not know if the bul­lets came from the Is­raeli or the Pales­tinian po­si­tion.

On Novem­ber 22, 2004, Mr Karsenty wrote on his web­site Me­dia Rat­ings that al-Dura’s death had been staged and that France 2’s con­duct “dis­graces France and its pub­lic broad­cast­ing sys­tem”. Mr Karsenty ac­cused Mr En­der­lin, who was not on lo­ca­tion dur­ing the clashes, of us­ing images staged by his Pales­tinian cam­era­man Talal Abu Rahma for pro­pa­ganda pur­poses.

The French sta­tion filed a com­plaint and Karsenty was con­victed in the orig­i­nal defama­tion trial. But he filed an ap­peal and in a sec­ond trial the judge ex­am­ined the 18-minute footage used for the al-Dura re­port be­fore de­cid­ing whether Karsenty was guilty of defama­tion or not.

It ruled on Wed­nes­day that Karsenty was not guilty.

Charles En­der­lin did not ap­pear in court for the ver­dict.

Mr Karsenty was cheer­ful, say­ing his four-year “soli­tary bat­tle” has come to an end.

Speak­ing to re­porters in the court­house, Karsenty called on France 2 to apol­o­gise of­fi­cially and on the evening news. “This is a vic­tory of France over lies,” he added.

“France 2 must recog­nise its mis­take. If it does not do so, it will bear re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ha­tred and in­cite­ment launched by this re­port.”

“In­cite­ment against Is­rael, Jews and the West in the Mus­lim world must stop. This ha­tred led to vi­o­lence and the death of Daniel Pearl.”

In Fe­bru­ary, Mr Karsenty de­fended his po­si­tion in court say­ing the images did not show Mo­ham­mad al-Dura get­ting killed, al­though the cam­era­man sug­gested that he was al­ready dead. He pro­vided a bul­let re­port from a French bal­lis­tics ex­pert, Jean-Claude Sch­linger, show­ing the shots fired over the al-Duras came from the Pales­tinian po­si­tion, cor­rob­o­rat­ing claims that the footage was doc­tored. He also pointed out that sev­eral scenes on the footage, which pre­ceded the al-Dura in­ci­dent, ap­peared staged.

At that hear­ing, the judge de­clared that the scenes be­fore the al-Dura in­ci­dent did seem forged.

How­ever, Mr En­der­lin said that the images were no dif­fer­ent from the clashes he had wit­nessed re­peat­edly. The pros­e­cu­tion re­minded the court that a dead Pales­tinian boy had been buried af­ter the Net­zarim junc­tion in­ci­dent and that Ja­mal al-Dura gave his con­sent for DNA tests that could prove the boy was his son.

The pros­e­cu­tion crit­i­cised Mr Karsenty for main­tain­ing his ac­cu­sa­tions when DNA tests could prove the boy’s death, and Mr Karsenty said DNA tests would not prove any­thing and that he based his ac­cu­sa­tions on the footage.

Mr Karsenty told Haaretz that the fact that Is­rael did not speak out for him played against him in the af­fair.

PHOTO: AP

Mo­hammed al-Dura’s last mo­ments: the dis­puted footage

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