Pool photograph by Kenzo Tribouillard President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed magistrates and police at Elysee Palace in Paris on Tuesday.
Pool photograph by Kenzo Tribouillard President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed magistrates and police at Elysee Palace in Paris on Tuesday.

President Nicolas Sarkozy had objected strongly to the idea of airing the images. In a statement on its English-language Web site, Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, said it “will not air video of French shootings” because the video “did not add any information that was not already in public domain. It also did not meet the television station’s code of ethics for broadcast.” Zied Tarrouche, the network’s Paris bureau chief, said earlier on Tuesday that the footage showed the seven killings carried out by Mohammed Merah, who was killed Thursday in a shootout with the police in the southwestern French city of Toulouse.

As the police had earlier reported, Mr. Tarrouche said Mr. Merah apparently had a camera around his neck as he carried out the attacks. Mr. Tarrouche said Al Jazeera had given the video to the police. Asked in a telephone interview if the footage was authentic, Mr. Tarrouche replied: “Unfortunately, yes. It was confirmed by the police on Monday.” He said the footage of the murders is combined with music, religious chants and the reading of Koranic verses. “You hear the gunshots and the cries of the victims,” he said. Mr. Merah or an accomplice apparently mailed the video to Al Jazeera’s Paris bureau on a USB computer key. It was accompanied by an unsigned letter in capital letters written in “sometimes bad French” and purporting to be from Al Qaeda, Mr. Tarrouche said. “There are a lot of things to think about” in deciding whether to air the footage, Mr. Tarrouche said before the broadcaster announced its decision not to show it, including the shock and pain it could cause the victims’ families. French prosecutors had said they would not prevent a broadcast, he added, saying Al Jazeera was ultimately faced with an ethical decision based on the questions: “What would we gain, what would our audience gain if we show this?” Mr. Sarkozy, however, said it should not be broadcast. ”I call on the heads of the networks not to show the video under any circumstances, out of respect for the victims and respect for the Republic,” Mr. Sarkozy said in a speech to police officers and judges.

The French broadcasting regulator, the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel, also “invited” networks not to show the footage. During a 30-hour standoff last week with the police, Mr. Merah, 23, confessed to the series of shootings in Toulouse and nearby Montauban saying they were meant to protest French military engagements in Muslim countries abroad, notably Afghanistan, the authorities said at the time. Calling himself a freedom fighter, he said he also sought to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children.
FRANCIS TAWIAH (Duisburg – Germany)


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