French Judge Censors Magazine to Protect Feelings of Family in Torture Case

Ilan_HalimiA French judge has ordered a magazine off newsstands for publishing a photo of a Jewish man Ilan Halimi, who was allegedly tortured to death. The alleged culprits are facing trial. Judge Phillipe Jean-Draeher based his decision on the “exceptional” attack by Choc magazine on the feelings of Halimi’s mother and sisters.

Halimi, 23, was found naked and handcuffed. He had been burned throughout his body and left near railroad tracks south of Paris on Feb. 13, 2006. The horrific details shocked Europe, here.

He awarded $27,544 to the mother and the sisters each $13,772 in damages and imposed a fine on Choc of $275 for every violation.

Judge Phillipe Jean-Draeher previously attracted attention for imposing a fine against wine critic Robert Parker for a statement about Hanna Agostini after the publication of Agostini’s book The Anatomy of a Myth.

Parker said Agostini was facing a potential fine of £0.7 million and a jail term of five years for fraud and misrepresentation, adding that the charges against her were “overwhelming”.

The judge stated: “Such remarks, expressed without the least amount of reserve, are an incontestable attack on the presumption of innocence.” That seems like protected opinion to me, but the good judge appears to have a different view of free speech — and its judicially enforced limits.

The gang of 27 was allegedly led by Youssouf Fofana, 28, who admitted to kidnapping Halimi but denied killing him. He also faces anti-Semitism as an aggravator in the crime.

Choc means “shock” in French and it is hard to see why the media does not have the right to publish such stories. The ruling appears to reinforce the view that free speech is under attack in the West. For a prior column, click here

For the story, click here

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