French writer Pierre Péan who was on trial in September over racial hatred charges in a Paris court, will again stand trial in an appeal chamber upon the demand of the French rights group SOS-Racisme and public prosecution in Paris, a top official of the Genocide Survivors’ Association in Rwanda confirmed yesterday.
Péan wrote in his book “Noirs Fureurs, Blancs Menteurs” literally translated in English as “Black Furies, White Liars” that Tutsis were influenced by a “lying culture”.
SOS-Racisme and the Genocide Survivors’ umbrella in Rwanda, IBUKA, accused him of slander and provocation to racial hatred but the 17th chamber of the first instance criminal court had acquitted him of the accusations on November 7.
“The information I have so far is that the trial will be held in May 2009. We are yet to know the exact dates it will be conducted but our lawyers are following it,” IBUKA’s President, Theodore Simburudari explained.
Following the publication in 2005 of the book “Black Furies, White Liars”, S.O.S Racisme, a French association against racism, filed a complaint in collaboration with IBUKA. The rights group considers that Péan, by portraying Tutsis’ as liars, he attacked ‘the honour and the consideration of this ethnicity.’
In the previous trial the court found the journalist’s remarks shocking but it resolved that they constituted neither public and racial slander, nor a provocation to racial discrimination.
The offences of slander and provocation to be discriminatory are governed in France by the law on the freedom of the press of 1881 in article 29 where it states that, ‘any allegation or charge of a fact which attacks the honour or the consideration of the person or the body to which the fact is charged is slander’.
The 17th chamber of the first instance criminal court, called “chamber of the press”, required more evidence to convict the accused and estimated that the violation needed that the allegation be presented ‘as a precise articulation of facts’ beyond debate.
French laws also sanction provocation to racial discrimination against a person or a group. Article 24 of the law of 1881 sanctions ‘incitement of the public to discrimination, hatred or violence towards the group considered’.
While the court acknowledged that the writer’s formulation “can legitimately hurt those he targeted”, it ruled that his writings did not constitute an incitement. Simburudari said French prosecution and SOS-Racisme decided to appeal the very day the defendant was acquitted.