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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 March, 2004, 16:37 GMT
Brothers seek French Passion ban
The Passion of the Christ
Jim Caviezel portrays Jesus in the Passion of the Christ
Three Jewish brothers have gone to court seeking a ban on Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ in France.

The trio - Patrick, Jean-Marc and Gerard Benlolo - asked a Paris judge to ban the controversial film, claiming it will incite violence against Jews.

The film has faced criticism for being anti-Semitic with accusations it blames Jews entirely for Jesus' death.

The French distributors of the film said there was no evidence it would cause public disorder.

Quinta Communications also said the brothers could not use religion as the basis for their argument and asked for the case to be thrown out.

During the hearing the judge and both parties decamped to a nearby cinema for a private showing of the film, which depicts the last 12 hours of Jesus' life.

"There is so much violent anti-Semitism in Europe that we cannot let this happen," said Patrick Benlolo.

In opposing the release of the film, the Benlolos submitted pages of quotes from US movie reviews, which the judge said would not be accepted as evidence.

The Passion of the Christ is due to open in France on Wednesday. The judge is likely to give his ruling on Monday.

The film has been dogged by controversy since Gibson announced he was going to direct the film. He has vehemently denied accusations of anti-Semitism.

Despite being filmed in the ancient language Aramaic and Latin, the movie has been a surprise box office success, particularly in the US where it has provoked some of the fiercest criticism.

Murder confession

The film also had an unexpected effect on a Texas man who was prompted to confess he had murdered his girlfriend after watching it.

Dan Leach, 21, said he killed pregnant girlfriend Ashley Nicole Wilson, found dead on 18 January, Fort Bend County Sheriff's Department said.

"He mentioned that speaking with a friend and seeing the movie made him feel remorse," police added.

Leach said he made it look as if the 19-year-old had committed suicide.

Her body was found in her apartment with a suicide note describing her depression. She appeared to have hanged herself.

Leach said he wanted to seek redemption after seeing The Passion of the Christ.

He went to the police and was released while they investigated his claim. Leach was arrested on Tuesday and is being held on $100,000 (55,500) bail.


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