The director of a media watchdog group was acquitted of libeling a French television station in the Mohammed al-Dura incident.
A Paris appeals court ruled Wednesday that Phillippe Karsenty of Media-Ratings had the right to accuse France 2 TV of manipulating the video of al-Dura, a Palestinian 12-year-old supposedly shot to death amid Israeli-Palestinian fighting.
The TV station and its Jerusalem correspondent, Charles Enderlin, had sued Karsenty for libel.
“It is a great day for the freedom of expression in France, the freedom of media and the truth in the media,” Karsenty told JTA.
Karsenty had written on his Web site that France 2 had manipulated footage that showed al-Dura dead in his father’s lap after they were caught in the crossfire in the Gaza Strip. The French report said Israeli bullets were responsible for the boy’s death, but the issue is still in dispute.
Israel initially apologized for the incident, but later said an investigation showed its troops could not have struck the boy from their positions.
The France 2 images shocked the world and made al-Dura a martyr among Arab nationalists.
In a reversal of an October 2006 ruling against him, Wednesday’s hearing found Karsenty “exercised his free criticism against a power, that of the press,” said his attorney, Patrick Maisonneuve.
Karsenty said the ruling “means there is a strong chance that I’m right” about France 2 doctoring its images.
Paris officials said a detailed explanation of the court’s decision would be available Thursday.