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French court rips al-Dura documentary

(JTA) — A French court found that a French documentary about coverage of the controversial death of a Palestinian boy was defamatory and not objective.

The court found June 10 that the documentary by the private French television channel Canal + about the Mohammed al-Dura case did not use available information to make the documentary more balanced and accurate.

The documentary was broadcast a month before a verdict in the original lawsuit filed by media watchdog Phillipe Karsenty against France 2 television, which aired the original footage of the 12-year-old al-Dura reportedly killed in the crossfire between Israeli and Palestinian forces in September 2000 in Gaza.

The incident came on one of the first days of the second intifada and served to further inflame tensions. Israel was blamed for the death and took responsibility but later recanted.

France 2 sued Karsenty, a French media watchdog, for libel for claiming that the footage was falsified, but a Paris appeals court overturned a judgment against him in spring 2008.

The original France 2 report claimed that al-Dura was killed by Israeli gunfire, but a subsequent investigation by Israel and additional footage that showed al-Dura lifting his head and opening his eyes after being pronounced dead raised huge doubts about its validity.

"This court victory is just another step in our journey to keep the press honest,"  Karsenty said Friday in an e-mail. "The French media finds every opportunity to paint Israel in a negative light, and even though I prevailed in court, the damage has already been done."

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