Eric Zemmour - Update
Review the background of the trial here.
All the main news sources have articles on the Eric Zemmour trial. They differ wildly on the amount of damages he will have to pay. Here is just one account, out of many, from France-Soir:
Being a famous reporter does not authorize you to legitimize police checks based on appearance or discrimination in hiring. Such was the message sent by the Paris tribunal on Thursday to Eric Zemmour, condemning him for his controversial remarks on "blacks and Arabs."
The 17th chamber of the correctional court (i.e., the court that tries lesser crimes) gave the journalist a deferred fine of 1000 euros in the suit brought against him by MRAP, SOS Racism and LICRA, and an identical fine in the suit initiated by the UEJF and J'Accuse.
Note: A deferred fine (or sentence) means that no payment is required at this time, but should there be another similar lawsuit later, the 1000 euros would be added on to any new fine.
In addition, Eric Zemmour will have to pay a little more than 1,000 euros in damages and openly acknowledge his penalties in an organ of the press.
Note: France-Soir actually says he will have to pay 10,000 euros in damages. In another article it says 1,000 which I think is more likely and which I used in the translation. Still other sources say he will pay one euro in damages to each association who brought the lawsuits against him. I will continue to look for accurate information.
Some anti-racism associations had accused Zemmour of "racial defamation" and others had attacked him for "provoking racial discrimination."
On Friday (February 18) the court absolved him of defamation, writing that "despite the abrupt and unnuanced nature of his remarks, which many found shocking, "the comment on drug traffickers, "is not defamatory", because Eric Zemmour "neither affirms nor implies the existence of a causal link, declared or possible, between the origin or the skin color and a presumed overrepresentation among the traffickers."
On the other hand, the court deemed that the polemicist had indeed incited to racial discrimination because, "by this categorical and peremptory utterance, he clearly and directly justifies police checks, arbitrary and systematic, of certain categories of the population."
Concerning the remarks on discrimination in hiring practices, the judges decided that the accused could not "legitimate an illegal practice, by presenting it as legal."
Thus, Eric Zemmour "went beyond the limits authorized by the right of freedom of expression" and what is more important is that "he is a speaker and a media professional (…) who claims to have mastery over language and its effects," the judges wrote.
The reporter's lawyer Olivier Pardo was pleased that his client had been cleared of the crime of defamation, since, according to him, "that was the big issue". The crime of provocation to racial discrimination is nonetheless punishable in France by an equally heavy penalty: one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros.
The lawyer added that he did not yet know if he would appeal.
Note: There seems to be an implication that Zemmour could be given a jail sentence and a huge fine. This would have to be in the context of still another trial. I have no information yet on any sequel to the present outcome.
The Minister of Transports Thierry Mariani, of the ruling UMP party immediately expressed his "consternation" over this conviction.
Lionnel Luca, the UMP deputy from Alpes-Maritimes, in a communiqué signed by 58 deputies of the "Collective for Freedom of Expression" affirmed that this conviction "illustrates the judicial trend against freedom of expression in our country" (…) "which precedes the veering into totalitarianism" and "henceforth demands a revision of the laws that are allowing it."
Note: This refers to the Gayssot and Lellouche laws. Gayssot made holocaust denial a crime. Lellouche dates from 2003 and increased the penalties for racist, anti-Semitic, and later, homophobic acts.
"There is no place in French society where racist remarks can be expressed with impunity," responded the counsel for SOS Racism, Patrick Klugman, seconded by the lawyer for MRAP, Pierre Mairat, who welcomed this "victory for the Republic."
The French Communist Party, for its part, was delighted with the conviction.
As for LICRA (International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism) it feels it has "fulfilled its mission of being the watchdog who sounds an alarm, and the courts fulfilled theirs of stating the law."