The owner of a Paris restaurant targeted in last November’s terror attacks says business has been slow since the venue reopened because of a public backlash over claims he sold footage of the shootings to a British tabloid.
The Casa Nostra pizzeria was sprayed with gunfire by the Islamic extremists who brought chaos to the streets of the French capital on November 13, eventually killing 130 people. No one was killed on the restaurant's premises, although five people perished in the street outside.
A few days later, Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper published dramatic CCTV footage from the Casa Nostra showing the horror of the assault, with one desperate woman able to escape when an attacker’s gun apparently jammed.
But the publication of the footage stirred a row in France after media reports said the Daily Mail had paid the restaurant €50,000 ($53,000) for it.
Allegations that Cosa Nostra owner Dimitri Mohamadi was directly involved in the sale of the video were first made on France’s Le Petit Journal television news show, which broadcast what it said was secretly filmed footage of the transaction captured by a freelance journalist who had been in the room.
Mohamadi has denied selling the video to the Daily Mail. He told France’s BFMTV on Saturday that a "cousin" had negotiated with the paper and that he arrived after the transaction was complete. His lawyer, Jeffrey Schinazi, also said Le Petit Journal had been summoned in a defamation suit over its claims about the video.
Casa Nostra had its official relaunch on Friday, although its doors actually reopened two weeks ago. Since then, business has been extremely slow, according to Mohamadi.
“I had a restaurant that was doing really well. We were loved. Now even the regulars pass by without stopping,” he said, adding that the downturn had forced him to lay off four staff.
Mohamadi said the restaurant was suffering because of the CCTV spat, with just eight customers on Thursday compared with an average of 60 before the attacks.
While other establishments targeted in the attacks have reopened with great fanfare and emotion – including Le Carillon and A La Bonne Bière bar across the street from the Cosa Nostra – just 10 people showed up to the pizzeria’s official relaunch, said Mohamadi.
The backlash “has really hurt me", he said. "It has demoralised me, I’m on anti-depressants. I don’t enjoy life anymore."
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2016-02-07