Court throws out Taser libel suit against politician
Instead, the French firm that imports Taser stun guns has been ordered to pay EUR 4,000 in legal fees to the far-left politician.
25 November 2008
PARIS – A French court on Monday threw out a lawsuit for libel, lodged by a French firm that imports Taser stun guns, against a far-left politician who had said the weapons could be lethal.
A Paris judge ordered SMP Technologies to pay EUR 4,000 in legal fees to Olivier Besancenot, a former presidential candidate for the Communist Revolutionary League.
Besancenot had written on his blog in 2007 that Taser guns "had probably already silenced more than 150 people in the United States", citing figures from an Amnesty International report.
The judge ruled that Besancenot had "sufficiently exercised caution in his remarks" and that as a candidate for the French presidency "he was taking part in a democratic debate" about weapons use.
It was the second ruling by a French court against SMP Technologies, which supplies French police and the military with the US-made stun guns.
The firm lost another case brought against human rights group RAID-H, which had published leaflets arguing against the pistol's use. SMP Technologies maintains that tests have shown that the Taser's 50,000-volt punch can immobilise but not kill a suspect.
Its campaign against critics of the Taser has proved highly controversial, and its chairman Antoine Di Zazzo has been accused of mounting an illegal surveillance operation against one of his opponents.
Di Zazzo was arrested in October along with several police officers, private detectives and a customs official, on suspicion of having spied on Besancenot.
A third libel suit has been brought against the magazine L'Express.
[AFP / Expatica]