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French TV loses Gaza footage case

Television images showing the last moments of Mohammed al-Dura's life
Pictures of father and son being shot at went around the world

A French court has ruled in favour of a media watchdog website accused of libel for claiming that footage of a shooting incident in Gaza in 2000 was fake.

The website, Media-Ratings, said the pictures of a father and son being fired on had been staged by a cameraman working for France 2 television.

The state broadcaster sued, insisting it had shown the boy being killed.

But the court dismissed the libel case saying the website had "exercised in good faith" the right to criticism.

The pictures of Palestinian boy and his father sheltering from gunfire in Gaza were seen around the world as a symbol of Palestinian suffering under Israeli rule.

Questions

The report broadcast by France 2 showed Jamal al-Durrah and his son Muhammad, 12, cowering in front of a wall.

In his comment, correspondent Charles Enderlin said they were being targeted from Israeli positions, and that the boy's death throes had been caught on camera.

It is legitimate for a media watchdog to investigate the circumstances in which the report in question was filmed and broadcast
Court ruling

But the appeals court said examination of the tape - which was shown at a court hearing in February - did not dispel questions over its authenticity.

Some observers who had been allowed to see the full recording had said it contained various scenes of boys pretending to be injured.

In 2004 Mr Karsenty, who runs Media-Ratings, wrote on the website that the footage was "pure fiction".

The channel's decision to stand by its story, he said, had "disgraced France and its public broadcasting system".

This triggered the lawsuit by France 2 and Mr Enderlin. They said they were being targeted by conspiracy theorists waging a smear campaign.

In 2006 a court initially ruled against Mr Karsenty, who has now won on appeal.

In its ruling on Wednesday, the appeals court said it was "legitimate for a media watchdog to investigate the circumstances in which the report in question was filmed and broadcast, in view of the impact which the images criticised had on the entire world".

France 2's lawyer said the broadcaster would appeal against the latest ruling.


SEE ALSO
Dispute rages over al-Durrah footage
08 Nov 07 |  Middle East

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