It’s late and I leave tomorrow. But a brief note on today’s proceedings. I missed most of it, waiting in a back room with the other witnesses. I went second to last. But I was there for my testimony (see my Conversations with Enderlin — we discussed the map), and Gerard Huber, author of the only extant book on Al Durah (unless you want to include Stephanie Gutmann‘s). Then came the summations. France2’s lawyer asked no questions of any of the witnesses and offered no witnesses for her case. Neither Charles Enderlin nor Arlette Chabot, the two plaintiffs, appeared.
After the last witness, Gerard Huber, the judges took a 6 minute break — by now it’s past 7 at night. Outside the courtroom Nidra told me how impressed she was with the level of the proceedings including the nature of the judge’s questions. We went back in for summations. First the lawyer for France2, then the Procureur de la République, an office I did not know about until two days ago. This court-appointed official represents “la société civile,” and summarizes from the point of view of the public interest how to he or she reads the evidence presented and finally makes a recommendation.
The lawyer for France2 gave a strikingly lackluster speech in which she repeated the basic presentation that France2 (via Charles Enderlin) has been repeating for years, as if she had heard none of the witnesses, nor read any of the voluminous work that Philippe and his lawyer had prepared. She questioned the trustworthiness of the witnesses, summarizing their comments and dismissing their qualifications. I apparently said, euh… euh… that I didn’t know much, “and anyway, what does he know about images [and fakes], he’s a medievalist.” I never so reveled in lame criticism.
Then came Madame le Procureur de la République. A screen writer could not have written a better speech. All the best tropes of civil society — honesty, accountability, fairness, transparency, context… the dangerous powers of an uncriticized quatrième état (fourth estate)… the right of the public to know, and therefore the responsibility of France2 to show the tapes of their cameraman Talal abu Rahmeh… the fact that what Phillipe had said was in fact defamation of Charles Enderlin’s reputation as a journalist, but that the evidence more than supported such an accusation… that this was not the typical case of libel, where the person slings unconsidered insults at another, but a carefully studied and considered criticism… that any sharp language was more than justified in the context of a case where one wants to attract attention… that it was not malice to want que Charles Enderlin tombe [that Charles Enderlin should fall].
Oh, and did I mention that she made numerous references to the testimony, that witnesses had come from far away to testify, that this was not just a French issue, but an international issue, and that many had suffered a great deal because of these images.
Then came Philippe’s lawyer, then Philippe, who made seven lapidary remarks, the last of which was the only thing missing from Madame le Procureur’s remarks: That Charles Enderlin and France2 are trying to use the courts [instrumentaliser la justice] to avoid facing the criticism leveled at them, and that if they would produce the rushes and abide by an open inquiry, then we wouldn’t even be in court.
Wow. French Republican values have scored a great first round victory today. This is the France that I fell in love with as a kid, and as a student reading Jules Michelet, and doing medieval history with intellectually vibrant people, the great souled people with wise and fair-minded institutions, and real ideals and commitment to integrity… the people of the Peace of God, and the early, heady days of the French Revolution.
Not to get too excited too soon… that was just one important court officer exercising her functions impeccably, a model of integrity and an accused who defended himself with great diligence and intelligence.
The judges make their decision known on October 19 (a week before the next trial on October 26 at which I will also be testifying… ).
This game is not over, and France2 (and the French MSM) has more than a bored lawyer working their side of the board. No one undergoes thorough, career-ending humiliation lightly, and there are so many resources for the aggrieved individuals in this case — Charles Enderlin, Arlette Chabot, and France2 — to make use of…
Stay tuned, and read Nidra.
Update: Philippe’s final remarks:
“I am of good faith and thiss is what I’d like to remind the court to prove it:
– They are too many incoherences, contradictions, unliklihoods in the film of France2 and the commentaries that followed its diffusion. To realize that one has only to look at the photos on the cover of Gerard Huber’s book.
– The false report was produced by the Palestinian cameraman, Talal abu Rahmeh and covered up by Charles Enderlin and his hierarchy.
– When all is said and done, there are only images, and the accusations are based on the images… so let’s analyze the images.
– I was transparent throughout this long process and this procedure. I presented all the elements at my disposal to affirm that in good faith it was staged.
– France 2 hides its 27 minutes of rushes which are supposed to prove its version and its good faith. Why? Why didn’t they just produce their 27 minutes to shut us up?
– I cannot prove that an even that didn’t happen didn’t take place. The burden of proof is on France2.
– France 2 wanted to use justice to silence its critics and give credence to its reporting. Do not let them do it.