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French outrage over DSK handcuff images

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French outrage over DSK handcuff images


As certain French voices question the absence of a picture of the alleged victim in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sex case, there is growing outrage in France that the accused was pictured in handcuffs.

It has shone a bright light on how differently things are done on each side of the Atlantic.

His legal team has threatened action against French media that broadcast those images.

Lawyer Dominique de Leusse said: “If the law has been broken, then action is possible. We’ll decide whether to proceed in the next two or three days.”

French law is clear on the broadcast of images deemed humiliating by many. It says to protect the presumption of innocence, pictures of people not yet found guilty in handcuffs or in a degrading context are against the law.

The rules were changed in 2000 under pressure from Elizabeth Guigou. Now, the former French justice minister pointed the finger at links between US judges and the US media.

She told French radio: “I think it’s very important to underline that the prosecutor and the judge are elected. And that their ambition is to be re-elected, either in their existing job or in others. They can not be indifferent to the fact that the world’s cameras are there and are showing what is going on.”

Strauss-Kahn’s supporters in France are furious that close-up pictures of his face shortly after his arrest were allowed to be published, claiming they undermined his basic right in US law to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

But in the United States, they don’t know what the fuss is all about.

With his handcuffed walk in front of the cameras Strauss-Kahn has joined a list of high-profile defendants paraded for the cameras.

They call it the ‘perp walk’. Bernard Madoff and Michael Jackson did the same.

The mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, agreed it would be humiliating for someone who was eventually cleared, but added: “If you don’t want to do the perp walk, don’t do the crime.”

Strauss-Kahn will likely be the focus of another media spectacular on Friday when he is due before the Grand Jury.

The broadcasting authority in Paris, the CSA, has already asked French broadcasters to rein in their coverage without specifically mentioning the Strauss-Kahn case.

But with global satellite and internet coverage there is little authorities in France can do to stop French viewers seeing what the rest of the world can see.

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

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