Paris, 10 November 2008 (FH) - The Criminal Court of Paris Friday acquitted famous French writer and journalist, Pierre Pean, of complicity in racial defamation and provocation to racial discrimination following publication in 2005 of his book "Black Furies, White Liars (Noires Fureurs, Blancs Menteurs)" on 1994 Rwandan genocide.

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The Director of the Fayard Publishing, Claude Durand, was also acquitted.

The Public Prosecutor had requested the conviction of Mr Pean. The applicants S.O.S Racisme, through its lawyer, said it will appeal against the decision.

In Kigali, IBUKA, an umbrella association of genocide survivors, remarked the decision as "very regrettable. It is as if the court concluded that Tutsis are born liars." Benoit Kaboyi, Executive Secretary of IBUKA, told Hirondelle Agency.

"It is not only Ibuka or S.O.S Racisme which were offended by Pean's remarks. It is the mankind. Everyone should thus rise", added Mr Kaboyi, hoping that Appeals Court would reverse the acquittal.

"If Pean's remarks had targeted a strong racial group, they would have been quickly condemned by the whole of humanity, but seeing that it is about Tutsis from a weak country... ", he added.

The proceedings against Pean started nearly a year after the publication of his book. The association S.O.S Racisme admonishes him for having written, in particular, that Tutsis had recourse to lies and dissimulation or were professionals of manipulation.

His book attributed responsibility for the attack against the plane of the former Rwandan President, Juvenal Habyarimana, to the current Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, and denounced a campaign of disinformation implemented by the latter to ensure himself the support of the international opinion.

In its reasons, the court considered that the formulation "culture of the lie and of manipulation", used by Mr. Péan, placed in his context, could not be regarded as the implication of a precise fact aiming at discrediting the entirety of Tutsis.

As for the proceedings for provocation to racial discrimination, the court considered that Pean's remarks do not cause the reader a feeling of hostility towards Tutsis, discrimination, hatred or violence.

The court, also, dismissed Pean who had asked for the conviction of a witness, heard during the trial, Benjamin Atban, co-author of "Rwanda, For a Dialogue of the Memories (Rwanda, pour un dialogue des mémoires)" , who had compared Pean's book to "Mein Kampf" , the anti-Semitic book written by Hitler, and its author to the negationnist Robert Faurisson.

During the trial, which was held from 23 to 25 September, 22 witnesses, former ministers, experts, journalists and soldiers, testified in favour of the French writer.

S.O.S Racisme called six witnesses; including the founders Ibuka and Avega, two associations of Rwandan survivors.


© Hirondelle News Agency