The French establishment has been shocked by the American media’s coverage of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case.
Eleven years ago, France’s parliament passed a law intended to reinforce the principle of the presumption of innocence. It banned the publication of photographs or video images depicting suspects in handcuffs if they have not been convicted of a crime.
The legislation also outlawed any pictures which could be considered to infringe the accused’s personal dignity, such as the images of Strauss-Kahn being led away by police officers.
The IMF chief’s lawyers say they will sue media outlets which they believe breached his privacy.
Euronews spoke with the editor of the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, Bruno Jeudy.
euronews, Farouk Atig: To what extent is this case humiliating France and French politics?
Bruno Jeudy, Le Journal du Dimanche:
Yes, it is probably humiliating for the Socialist Party, the IMF and also for France. Just 72 hours ago, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was still one of the most powerful people in world politics. Now he is in prison.
Bruno, the American media has not treated DSK lightly. Many already consider him to be guilty but he still enjoys the presumption of innocence.
Sure, it is quite shocking to us. The French are quite attached to the presumption of innocence and have a totally different system at the judicial level.
The American system moves very quickly and has a process which can throw up spectacular images: the accused being shown handcuffed; the TV cameras inside the courtroom, all of which are completely prohibited in France.
The so-called Guigou Law?
Yes, the law that was passed also by the Socialist Elisabeth Guigou. It banned photographs showing
defendants in handcuffs.
It is true that the system can shock the French, but at the same time protect the victim. We also see that the United States, whether you are a powerful politician or a hotel chambermaid — it is a level-playing field. One has to wonder if in France this would have been the case in the same context. I am not sure.
Let’s make a comparison between the media industries in the two countries. Some American newspapers have criticised their French counterparts for being complacent on this matter. What do you think as the editor of a leading newspaper?
Bruno Jeudy. Le Journal du Dimanche:
I think there are some journalists who were shocked that DSK could find himself in such a situation a few months before the presidential election. But the fact is that we have seen DSK arrested, charged, handcuffed and then jailed. It appears the evidence against him is quite convincing if you believe the American police. We now need to wait to hear DSK’s version.