Saturday 17 February 2018

Paris supermarket hostages sue media over live coverage

Bullet impacts are seen on the glass store front at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket, where four hostages were killed (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
Bullet impacts are seen on the glass store front at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket, where four hostages were killed (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
An explosion lights the front of a kosher supermarket as French police special forces launch their assault, where several people were taken hostage in Paris

Families of the hostages of a radical gunman who killed four in a kosher supermarket are suing a French broadcaster over its live coverage of the attack, saying it put the hostages' lives in danger.

Images broadcast from the scene on January 9, when gunman Amedy Coulibaly stormed into the Hyper Cacher Jewish supermarket, killing four and taking others hostage, "lacked the most basic precautions" and endangered those still alive inside, said a lawyer representing the group, Patrick Klugman.

Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre, Paris prosecutor's office spokeswoman, said today that a preliminary investigation has been opened into the coverage by BFM television.

France's broadcast watchdog reprimanded BFM and several other television and radio stations for their coverage of the market hostage-taking and attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January.

BFM and other broadcasters notably revealed in live reports that hostages were hiding in the kosher market.

The watchdog and the families' lawyers say that could have endangered the hostages if the gunman found.

BFM would not immediately comment today.

Mr Klugman singled out French 24-hour news channel BFMTV, which revealed live on air that the group - including a three-year-old child and a one-month-old baby - was hiding from Coulibaly in the cold room, where they were taken by one of the supermarket's employees.

"The working methods of media in real time in this type of situation were tantamount to goading someone to commit a crime," Mr Klugman told AFP, roundly criticising coverage by other outlets of security forces movements during the standoff.

The lives of those hiding "could have been at risk if Coulibaly had been aware in real time what BFMTV was broadcasting," Mr Klugman said, adding that the jihadist was following the coverage of his raid on different channels and had been in contact with BFMTV journalists.

The heavily televised events at Hyper Cacher in eastern Paris came two days after Cherif and Said Kouachi shot 12 people at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. All three gunmen were killed after three days of attacks the killed a total of 17 people and deeply shocked France.

The lawsuit charges media outlets with endangering the lives of others by deliberately ignoring security protocols, which carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison and €15,000 fine.

Press Association

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