Ruling over 'fake' intifada footage

Ruling over 'fake' intifada footage

A libel ruling against a media watchdog that claimed footage of a killing in Gaza in 2000 was fake has been overturned.

A court has overturned a libel ruling against a media watchdog website that claimed footage of a shooting incident in Gaza during the 2000 intifada 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 the footage was genuine and showed the boy being killed.

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

The iconic pictures of Palestinian boy and his father sheltering from gunfire in Gaza were seen by millions of television viewers around the world during the intifada.

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

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

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

In a written statement on the pajamasmedia website, he said: “Our victory today was a victory for freedom.

“The al-Dura lie is an assault on our ability to think, to criticize, to evaluate, and to reject information.

“The right to think, to speak, to evaluate, to accept, and to reject the conclusions of others goes to the very heart of what it means to be free.”

In its ruling on Wednesday, the French 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.

Photo: AFP screen shot

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