French politician appeals to overturn libel conviction on al-Dura video

Philippe Karsenty seeks to reverse conviction for accusing France 2 TV of doctoring footage showing Palestinian boy's death.

July 24, 2013 17:19
2 minute read.
Phillippe Karsenty.

Philippe Karsenty al Dura critic 370. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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Philippe Karsenty, a French Jewish politician, has appealed to France’s supreme court to overturn his conviction of defamation for accusing a television channel of doctoring a video allegedly showing the death of a Palestinian boy.

Karsenty, deputy mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris, was convicted of defamation in 2006 for saying France 2 and its reporter Charles Enderlin had doctored the 2000 video showing the alleged death of Mohammed al-Dura, a 12-year-old boy.

The video became a symbol of the second intifada, and the Israeli government claims that it spawned terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and Jews elsewhere.

In 2008, a French court overturned Karsenty’s conviction after reviewing the full footage, but last month France 2 successfully appealed the case. Karsenty was fined $14,000 in the latest ruling.

Karsenty has said he would not pursue the case further but changed his mind “because of procedural and ethical issues” that he says led to a “miscarriage of justice” in his latest trial. He declined to elaborate, citing legal issues.

Shot near Gaza by France 2’s Palestinian cameraman, the video shows al-Dura in the arms of his father, both crouching behind a barrel as bullets hit the wall behind them.

France 2 said the boy was shot dead by Israeli troops but edited out a sequence in the end in which the boy appears to be alive. France 2 later said the movements were death throes but an Israeli team of inquiry said the boy was moving voluntarily.

An Israeli investigation found that bullets seen hitting the wall likely came from Palestinian gunmen. In May, a different Israeli review panel concluded there was no evidence al-Dura had died.

France 2’s attorneys threatened to sue the latest panel, set up by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The channel’s lawyers said they did not receive the opportunity to present their version of events.

The legal advisor of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office this month replied to France 2’s threat by listing six requests by Israeli officials for input on the al-Dura case from France 2, which is a state-owned channel. Some of the requests were made to France’s outgoing ambassador to Israel, Christophe Bigot.

“There emerges a pattern of repeatedly complaining that your positions are not heard, while ignoring all requests made to you to receive the materials that you say your clients are not getting the opportunity to display,” attorney Shlomit Barnea-Fargo of the Prime Minister’s Office wrote to France 2 in a reply obtained by JTA.

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