Prosecutor Wants Conviction Against French Writer

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The Prosecutor requested Thursday conviction for a prominent French writer Pierre Pean, charged with defamation and incitement to racial hatred following publication of his book "Noires Fureurs, Blancs Menteurs (Black Furies, White Liars)" on the 1994 Rwandan genocide, while leaving the court the to decide on length of the sentence.

In her closing arguments Trial Attorney, Anne de Fontette, considered that the two offences, for which Pean was charged, constituted crimes. "One can write on Rwanda. One can write what they want, but not anything at anytime," argued the lawyer.

The judgment of the 17th Chamber of the Criminal Court of Paris is expected before end of the year. The prosecution also requested the publication of the judgment in three French newspapers.

A French rights group, SOS Racisme filed the lawsuit in October 2006 against Pean.

Mr Pean wrote that the Tutsis had a culture of lies and deceit or were "professionals" in manipulation. He said in his book, published in 2005, that it made investigating Rwanda "an almost impossible task".

During the three days of hearing, the investigative writer, who published best-selling biography on former French President François Mitterrand among others, defended himself of racism, explaining that the purpose of the book was to entangle the manipulation of Rwandan history by the current government led by President Paul Kagame.

The Belgian historian, Filip Reyntjens, who testified at the trial, considered that certain pages of the book were "brutal and peremptory assertions on a topic that has to be approached with caution".

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Two former French ministers testified in favour of Pean -- Bernard Debre, Minister for the Co-operation in Balladur government in September 1994, then Hubert Vedrine, Secretary General of French Presidency during the genocide and Minister of Foreign Affairs for Lionel Jospin. The first one denounced a "witch-hunt into racism" against Pean; the latter considered that the book constituted "a terrible scandal", finding, however, a little "simplistic and schematic" the thesis of the author.

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
Procurement Consultant
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