They came to grief for it. Quite a bad idea, picking a quarrel with Professor Faurisson. That is what they have learned to their cost, “they” being, first, Madame le substitut du procureur (“deputy public prosecutor”) of the French Republic in Paris, Anne de Fontette, initiator of the proceedings, then the three civil plaintiffs – the LICRA (“International league against racism and anti-semitism”), the MRAP (“Movement against racism and anti-Semitism and for friendship among peoples”) and the LDH (“League of human rights”) – and, finally, the new presiding judge of the 17th chamber, Nicolas Bonnal.
Professor Faurisson’s knowledge and determination
For four and a half hours on this very hot July afternoon, in a sweltering 17th chamber of the Paris Correctional Court, slightly more than a hundred revisionists, who had come from France, Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Iran and still other countries to support the Professor, attended a legal bout that, from the start, was to swing in favour of the defence. 77 years of age but endowed with a fierce energy, Robert Faurisson is a retired university professor who taught at the Sorbonne and in Lyon. Of “British” style (he is both a British subject and a French citizen), he appeared determined. His memory was to have the LICRA barrister saying: “This one here, with his hate-fed memory, can’t be expected to end up with Alzheimer’s”. It was in a sarcastic tone that the presiding judge deemed fit to begin the opening questioning of the Professor but the latter warned him that he would not let himself go on being spoken to in that way. And the tone changed. Then, at three points in his reading of a document, the judge stood corrected. His three errors, as the Professor was good enough to point out, resulted from the fact that he’d relied on a faulty copy (the text of the writ of summons) whereas he ought to have referred to the original text of a basic document: the report drawn up by a chief inspector-sergeant. When the Professor started setting forth his line of defence and developing the revisionist argumentation, the judge seemed to become aware of his mistake: he had a tough opponent to contend with and the revisionist case proved to be decidedly more solid than he appeared to have imagined. Many times he was to be seen, overwhelmed by it all, hiding his face in his hands. “A judge having his virginity taken from him on the bench!”, concluded one revisionist present at the hearing.
The law forbids us, who are in France, from going into the academic’s arguments, which R. Faurisson always backed up with references. It will be enough here to recall his keenness to point out that it is not his ambition to seek “the Truth”, but that he aims only at exactitude. According to his explanations, he first carried out, on site at Natzweiler-Struthof, Auschwitz, Treblinka and in a good number of other places, a technical detective’s investigation; then, through the intermediary of laboratory chemists, he conducted a forensic investigation. Like an examining magistrate, he strove to find all the elements he could both against and in favour of the accused. He sifted closely through a considerable number of testimonies. In the study of documents, he merely followed the most classic historical method. He put into practice a discipline in which he had in the past lectured at the university of Lyon and which had received the official designation of “appraisal of texts and documents (literature, history, media)”. A revisionist, he points out, far from being a “denier” or a “negationist”, is a researcher who, at the end of his inquiries, can be led to affirm that such or such “Truth” is questionable from a scientific point of view. Also, the right to do historical research should not normally come with either arbitrary bounds or a pre-imposed conclusion. The researcher must not let himself be gagged, just as the judge must not let his hands be tied by a special purpose law like the Fabius-Gayssot Act of July 13, 1990, also known by its technical label “article 24 bis”. Besides, up to now, for one and the same offence, which he has stubbornly repeated over a quarter of a century, in the same forms and in identical conditions, the Professor has seen himself judged in all possible manners. He has often been convicted but he has at times been acquitted and it has even come to pass that, after a certain trial, a court of appeal has paid solid tribute to the quality of his work, to the point of stating: “The value of the findings defended by Mr Faurisson [on “the problem of the gas chambers”] is therefore a matter for the sole appreciation of experts, historians and the public”. If, over these last few years, his publications have no longer met with prosecution, it is because the Law changes mood, because case law reverses itself and because French judges are first of all men and women, who, in general, mean to serve the law but not enslave themselves to it.
At the root of the charges, a botched inquiry
Robert Faurisson is charged with having granted in 2005 a telephone interview of revisionist tenor to the Iranian radio and television station Sahar 1. The indictment asserts that the programme carrying the interview, having been transmitted by satellite, could at the time be received in France, but there is nothing to prove that it was actually received there. The prosecution produced a “re-transcription of Mr Faurisson’s words on the cassette submitted by the CSA [“superior audiovisual council”]”. Mr Faurisson readily admitted that the recorded words corresponded to his thoughts but added that, given the abundance of interviews he had granted to foreign stations or agencies, especially since his stay in Iran in November of 2000 at the Iranian government’s invitation, he was unable to specify the date and place of the interview in question. And he was quite surprised that the prosecution, for its part, should be able to state, without having made any inquiry on the relevant points, that his interview would seem to have been broadcast on February 3, 2005 (the actual date of the transmission) and, in the prosecution’s obscure wording, “in Paris […], in any case on the national territory”. The authorities had so badly botched their own investigation into the matter that they couldn’t tell where the cassette had come from, a cassette that, furthermore, might well have undergone tampering since, with the beginning and end of the Professor’s discourse having been cut out, the tape could not show in exactly what context the remarks had been made. [As the CSA is apparently not equipped with the formidable technical means requisite for recording, day and night, all the broadcasts of the great many stations of the Arabo-Moslem world, one must suppose that the listening was the work, in reality, of an intelligence agency, for example the famous MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute), an appendage of the Israeli military intelligence services specialising in tracking down revisionism in cyberspace.] With such proof wanting, it could not, consequently, be known whether the Professor had spoken from France or from a foreign country. As for the missing portions of his talk, perhaps they contained a passage where, as he customarily does, the Professor warned his interviewer that such statements as he was about to make must not be diffused in France. In short, there existed no proof of criminal intent. Finally, Maître Eric Delcroix, barrister for the accused, stressed that, in spelling certain names letter by letter, Mr Faurisson plainly believed that his words were going to be translated into Persian, for an Iranian audience.
The civil plaintiffs’ agitation and insults in the face of the Professor’s demonstration
Despite the civil plaintiffs’ attempts at obstruction and their noisy objection requesting that the judge stop what one of them termed a “slandering of the martyrs”, the Professor listed, to the general amazement of those present, the sizeable concessions, touching directly on the merits of the “Holocaust” case, made to the revisionists in the course of a half-century by the representatives of the official version. He brought up the undoing of Raul Hilberg, in 1985, at the first Ernst Zündel trial in Toronto, where the Number One historian of the “Destruction of the European Jews” (as his magnum opus is entitled) had been forced to admit, under oath, that there was, after all, no document proving the existence of a policy for the physical extermination of the Jews. When summoned to explain how, then, it had been possible for such a policy to be conceived, ordered and implemented by Germany, he stated (affirming beforehand what was to appear later in the same year in the new edition of his book) that all of that “came about not so much [in line with] a plan carried out, but an incredible meeting of minds, a consensus mind reading by a far-flung bureaucracy”! Robert Faurisson mentioned as well the utter defeat of Jean-Claude Pressac on May 9, 1995, in this same 17th chamber. A few days after that memorable session, Pressac had, on his own initiative, signed a sort of act of capitulation, which would be revealed to us five years later by a young French academic, Valérie Igounet, at the very end of her book Histoire du négationnisme en France (Seuil, Paris 2000, p. 651-652). For the one who for years had been the miraculous saviour of exterminationism or affirmationism and the Klarsfeld couple’s protégé, the dossier of the official history of the concentration camps was henceforth “rotten” and no longer good for anything but the “rubbish bins of history”. At this, the burly, paunchy barrister for the LICRA, Christian Charrière-Bournazel, exploded with anger. Together with his friends, he asked the judge to put an end to the Professor’s turn to speak. Fifteen years previously, faced with the same request, presiding judge Claude Grellier, the first to hear cases brought under the 1990 law, had termed it “surreal”, pointing out to the would-be censors that, if Faurisson was appearing before his court, it was indeed because of them. Judge Bonnal having ruled that the defendant should continue to be heard, the Professor went on with his discourse. Robert Faurisson piled up the evidence, with references, citing of sources and all kinds of specifications. He predicted that his opponents, for want of ability to confront him with arguments and evidence, would seek refuge in invective. And that is what happened. With regard to him or his writings, all that was to be heard from the plaintiffs were words such as “stinking”, “nauseating”, “falsifier”, “lie”, “crime”, “beyond bad faith”, “mud”. In his concluding statement, barrister Charrière-Bournazel struck a solemn pose and proclaimed himself a “holy refuse collector”. The plaintiffs repeated the word “anti-semite” but with nothing specific to indicate the defendant’s supposed anti-semitism. Later, Eric Delcroix was to observe that, in our day and age, the accusation of anti-semitism is hurled against people just as the accusation of anti-Christianism was launched against people in former times: “We know your hidden motive, Galileo: you’re trying to discredit the Holy Scripture!”
The deputy public prosecutor, Anne de Fontette, calls for Yahweh’s protection
Anne de Fontette, deputy public prosecutor, brought the verbal assaults to a climax with one of her own. She was putting both Faurisson and Iran on trial. To crown it all, the rhetorical flourish of her summation was to be… a Jewish prayer. Announcing that she was about to give a reading of a text of which, as she let us know, she would have been glad to be the author, she read out an invocation to Yahweh (sic), protector of his “chosen people” (sic), beseeching him to protect the said people from “lying lips” (sic) (thus, from the “lying lips” of Faurisson). You have read correctly. Those words were pronounced by a deputy of the procureur of the French Republic and in the courtroom of a secular State. The crucifix had long been removed from French courtrooms, but, on this day, in Paris, it has been replaced by the evocation of Yahweh, whose wrath might strike Robert Faurisson, a call that may be interpreted as a call to murder. Is it not specified in Psalm 120 that “sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper” shall punish the “lying lips”? Today, the French people in their entirety have been replaced by the sole “chosen people”. Judge Bonnal did not breathe a word. Can one imagine his reaction if a representative of the public prosecutor’s office had read an invocation to either Allah or Jesus (who, according to the Talmud, is condemned to stand in boiling hot excrement till the end of time)? Madame le substitut ended by declaring that, as Faurisson was a multiple repeat offender, it would only be right to “move things up a notch” and give him a prison sentence, “perhaps with suspension”. She was unaware that on May 9, 1995 her predecessor, François Cordier, had already sought a sentence of three months without suspension. As for the various civil plaintiffs, they demanded, true to ritual fashion, their pounds of flesh in the form of coin of the realm.
Nicolas Bonnal has been “trained” by the CRIF and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre!
But why did judge Bonnal keep quiet in the face of this misplaced evocation of the Judaic deity and the call to violence or murder? Is it because he has compromised himself with two entities that are close to the Israeli right: the CRIF (“Representative council of French Jewish institutions”) and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre? The CRIF is headed by the banker Roger Cukierman, formerly a senior director with the Edmond de Rothschild bank. And, just recently, in a press release of July 5, the CRIF announced that it was in charge of a “training” programme for European judges, among whom it expressly mentioned, first of all, Nicolas Bonnal, who had taken a course given by Marc Knobel, a research fellow at the Centre Simon-Wiesenthal de France! In second place the CRIF proudly announced another trainee: François Cordier! Was Robert Faurisson about to find himself in a rabbinical court that would be trying him more Judaico?
Maître Eric Delcroix’s clap of thunder
A formidable voice then made itself heard in the courtroom: that of Maître Eric Delcroix. Hang the microphone! We were no longer hearing the speeches of our three likenesses of Maître Bafouillet (“Barrister Babbler”), as inept as that fictional French lawyer who feared lest he “make the judge’s white hairs turn red”. With Eric Delcroix it’s a well-structured presentation eloquently delivered in the great French tradition. The Professor’s barrister went to the bottom of the case: he dissected “article 24 bis” of the law regulating the freedom of the press, that “atrocious article 24 bis” as Maître Yves Baudelot, lawyer for Le Monde, has termed it. After demonstrating its aberrant nature, Maître Delcroix, going to the bottom of the bottom, showed the legal ignominy of the trial of the defeated at Nuremberg in 1945-46, which was the basis chosen for article 24 bis. He also recalled how, as a young law graduate, he had visited the Soviet Union to take part in the defence of dissidents. These days it is against a new tyranny that he continues his task of defending public freedoms. For years he had fought to obtain the non-enforcement of article 14 of the same law, enabling the Interior minister to ban certain publications from abroad. That non-enforcement ended up being obtained de facto. Then it was approved by the administrative courts in Paris. Finally, the lawmakers have recently repealed article 14 outright. Maître Delcroix declared: “I’ve vowed to have the hide of article 24 bis just as I’ve had the hide of article 14.”
Last to speak: Professor Faurisson
Despite all kinds of hindrances the Professor had been able to speak for an hour. Now he was to speak for another half hour. In his address, he listed the civil parties’ main errors and, especially, those of the substitut. He pulled his punches somewhat, for the opponent was visibly exhausted and flustered. One doesn’t hit a man when he’s down. But there was a warning: any conviction or new prosecution would reignite hostilities. In the past few years, guided by experience, the examining magistrates and prosecutors had refrained from causing R. Faurisson trouble. Then, new and inexperienced jurists thought they would be cleverer than their predecessors. That cost them dear on this July 11th of 2006. It could cost them dearer still in a future encounter on the judicial terrain.
Meanwhile, the decision is due to be handed down on October 3.
NB: Contrary to their custom, the Jewish tontons macoutes did not come to the courthouse on the day of this hearing, and so did not strike anyone. One of judge Bonnal’s predecessors, Jean-Yves Monfort, used to show, for his part, great indulgence towards the physical violence of the groups known as Bétar, Tagar and Ligue de défense juive. And early last year, on January 15, 2005 to be precise, speaking on public radio channel France-Inter at 8.30 a.m., he confided to presenter Elisabeth Lévy that he was “alarmed” by the number of revisionist supporters: he was sad not to see the “citizens come out onto the streets” to express their “indignation” and, in doing so, bring their support to judges whom he described as being totally isolated in their struggle against “negationism”. Acknowledging that the remark, coming as it did from a judge, might surprise people, he called for – his exact word – “disorder”!
July 11, 2006