Al Dura Trial Takes Huge Turn - UPDATE
Appellate Court Presiding judge Laurence Tr√©bucq has demanded that France 2 hand over the 27-minutes of raw footage shot on the afternoon of September 30, 2000 by Talal Abu Rahmeh. France 2 lawyer Ma√Øtre B√©n√©dicte Amblard tried to convince the judge that the request was not appropriate, relevant, necessary or even advisable. But the judge wants to see the outtakes with her own eyes.
This is the first time the French court has made such a demand that would be normal in the US system. The court will now be able to determine if the Al Dura shooting and tape was a fake, as many have alleged.
Ma√Ætre Amblard was not able to reach her clients to confirm availability of the footage. Today's hearing was adjourned. The next hearing is scheduled on November 14th... to view the raw footage.
Details will follow tomorrow.
PREVIOUS MATERIAL FROM EARLIER IN DAY:
By Nidra Poller
Philippe Karsenty, director of Media-Ratings, has appealed his November 2006 libel conviction in the case brought against him by state-owned France 2 Television and its Jerusalem correspondent Charles Enderlin, in what has become known as the al Dura affair.
The case will be heard tomorrow in the Appeals Court at the Palais de Justice. A major turning point in this case is the Israel Defense Force's imperative demand for handover of the 27 minutes of raw footage filmed by France 2 stringer Talal Abu Rahmeh which purportedly shows additional images of the alleged victims of Israeli gunfire, identified as Jamal al Dura and his son Mohammed.
Abu Rahmeh affirmed, in sworn testimony, that Israeli soldiers fired deliberately and continuously at the man and the boy for 45 minutes, until the boy was dead and the man critically wounded. He claimed to have filmed 27 minutes of the 45-minute incident. France 2 journalist Charles Enderlin insists that the 55-second segment broadcast by his network and distributed free of charge to international media, is an excerpt from more ample coverage of the incident contained in that 27-minute video.
France 2 has refused countless requests, including several from the Israeli army*, to release the 27 minutes of raw footage. Charles Enderlin and his hierarchy continue to insist that the withheld footage substantiates claims that the boy and the man were shot ... by Israeli soldiers...or by gunfire from an undetermined source.
To my knowledge, four people have viewed the 27-minute video: Richard Landes (professor of history at Boston University, director of www.seconddraft.org and Augean Stables), Luc Rosenzweig (a retired first-class French journalist), Denis Jeambar (former editorial director of the news weekly l'Express, currently director of Editions du Seuil), and Daniel Leconte (reputable journalist and director of Doc en Stock, producer of documentaries for French TV).
All four witnesses have testified, formally or informally, to the absence of images of Jamal and Mohamed al Dura in the 27-minute outtakes. They have all, in differing degrees, noted extensive footage of staged battle scenes in the 27-minute segment. None of the four have claimed that the 27-minute segment includes any image that could substantiate the voiceover in the narrative of the "death scene" as broadcast by France 2 on September 30, 2000.
Landes and Rosenzweig maintain that the 55-second video is a staged scene. Jeambar and Leconte maintain that the boy was killed and the father injured in a crossfire. There is no evidence of a crossfire in the 55-second "death scene" video. There is no other image of Jamal and Mohamed al Dura in the 27-minute outtakes.
To my knowledge, the only mention of the upcoming hearing in the French media was a Radio J interview with Philippe Karsenty. The Radio J journalist, Michel Zerbib, is the only French journalist to have given consistently serious attention to the al Dura affair over the past few years. Mainstream media that reported on Karsenty's conviction, misinterpreted as proof that the al Dura "death scene" was not staged, have not mentioned the recent IDF demand for handover of the outtakes -- despite the fact that it expresses serious doubts about the credibility of a major news report.
Asked if the change in government might influence the outcome of his trial, Karsenty replied that there are two possible avenues of success: either the court could rule in his favor and/or President Sarkozy could instruct Patrick de Carolis, director of France T√©l√©visions, to turn over the outtakes as requested.
Recalling that a letter of praise for Charles Enderlin from then president Jacques Chirac weighed heavily in the case against Karsenty, it will be interesting to observe the attitude of the Court during tomorrow's hearing.
* TEXT OF SEPTEMBER 10, 2007 LETTER FROM THE IDF TO FRANCE 2 REQUESTING THE RELEASE OF THE RAW FOOTAGE:
Unofficial translation of authorized French version
Nidra Poller for PajamasMedia
Israel Defense Forces & [insignia]
Head of Media Communications Division Dover Tsahal
N¬∞ 37 Kaplan St. Tel Aviv IDF Spokesperson
Tel: 972 3 5690798, 0922
FAX: 972 3 5698222
3226 Shir 10 September 2007
Charles Enderlin, France 2
Rue Jaffa 2O4, Jerusalem
Subject : Handover of footage from September 30 & October 1, 2000
1. Subsequent to the request of my predecessor Lieutenant Colonel Yarden Vatikai, I am once more requesting you to hand over footage shot by Talal About Rahma on September 30, 2000, of an approximate duration of 27 minutes (as attested by the three journalists--Jeambar, Leconte, and Rosenzweig-- authorized by your services to view the footage in October 2004) as well as footage shot by the same cameraman on October 1, 2000.
2. In order to comply with a request to comment on the judgment pronounced on this issue on October 19, 2006 and scheduled for an appellate hearing in a French court on September 19 2007, I will need the said material without delay.
3. Saturday September 30, 2000, a France 2 news report broadcast worldwide reported the purported death of the boy, Mohamed al Dura, at Netzarim Junction in the Gaza Strip, filmed by Talal Abu Rahma a local cameraman employed by France 2. The France 2 news report attributed the death of Mohamed al Dura to Israeli soldiers posted at Netzarim Junction and alleged that they had taken the father and son as "targets."
4. An investigation conducted shortly afterward by General Yom-Tov Samia, Chief of the Southern Command, found that a certain number of facts did not correspond with the France 2 report. In my conversation with Reserve General Samia he explained that analysis of all the data in the field--the location of the Tsahal [IDF] position, the shooting angles, the location of the father and his son sheltered behind a barrel, the cadence of the shots, the angles of penetration of the bullets in the wall standing behind the father and son, and the time frame of the incident made it highly improbable that the shots that supposedly hit the father and son could have been fired by Tsahal soldiers from their post.
5. I am aware that divergent points of view were presented before the French court that judged the affair Enderlin, France 2 versus Karsenty (file 0433823049). In his verdict, Judge Jo√´l Boyer reiterated the argument that the State of Israel had never adopted the allegations of a staged scene, had never denied that Mohamed Al Dura was killed by IDF soldiers, and had never made an effort to refute allegations on this subject in the France 2 report. This verdict also led one to believe that the State of Israel had never attempted to obtain the footage used to produce this news report.
6. I want to emphasize that these allegations are totally inconsistent with the repeated attempts by the IDF to obtain the footage, and equally inconsistent with the conclusions of the Tsahal Investigating Commission, which was widely cited in the French and international media. General Samia also made clear to me that all attempts to obtain the footage in order to complete the investigation had been unsuccessful. Furthermore, Reserve General Samia had asked his Palestinian colleagues (primarily General Majdaye, Commandant of the Palestinian police and Brigadier General Omar Ashur, chief of the unity of liaison with Israel) to send Palestinian representatives to join the investigating commission. These requests, as well as requests for handover of photographs of the child's body and forensic pathology reports were rejected by the Palestinian police chiefs.
7. Given that we are fully aware of attempts to stage scenes for the media and given that such doubts have arisen with respect to the said news report we request handover of the said footage in order to discover the truth and bring an end to this affair.
8. In order to conclude this affair I kindly request that you hand over to me no later than September 15, 2007, a complete unedited broadcast-quality copy of the 27 minutes of raw footage filmed by Talal Abu Rahma on September 30, 2000, as well as the raw footage he filmed on October 1, 2000.
9. Would you be so kind as to acknowledge reception of this letter so that we can coordinate with you for the transfer, as soon as possible, of a copy of all of the said raw footage, so that we can reply to questions raised by the judgment before the appellate hearing scheduled for September 19, 2007.
I beg you to accept the expression of my distinguished salutations,