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Latest update : 2008-09-24

A French investigative journalist is on trial in a Paris court under accusations of inciting racial hatred in a book on the Rwandan genocide that described ethnic Tutsis as prone to lying and deceit.

French investigative journalist Pierre Pean went on trial Tuesday accused of inciting hatred in a book on the Rwandan genocide that described ethnic Tutsis as prone to lying and deceit.

"Noires fureurs, blancs menteurs" (Black furies, white liars) outraged the rights group SOS Racisme which filed a complaint in civil court, backed by the French state attorney.

"Investigating Rwanda is almost an impossible task given that lies and deceit have been elevated to an art form," wrote Pean in the book released in November 2005.

"The first Europeans who had prolonged contact with the Tutsis observed that they were trained in lying," he wrote.

The author of best-sellers on former presidents Francois Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac told the judge he considered the court case to be part of a smear campaign orchestrated by the Rwandan government.

"For the past three years, I have been dragged in the mud. At best, I am treated like a racist, at worst a denialist," the 70-year-old author told the judge.

"This is unbearable and in fact I couldn't bear it. Two months after I was charged, I had a heart attack."

SOS Racisme president Dominique Sopo accuses Pean of reproducing in the book some of the "prejudices in the genocidal ideology" that led to the slaughter of some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.

About 30 historians, experts and politicians including former foreign minister Hubert Vedrine will be called to testify during the hearings until Thursday.

The Paris court is expected to deliver a verdict at a later date.


Date created : 2008-09-24