After a truly grisly tragedy peace can only reign for so long. Solicitors and other legal personal can only be held back for so long before someone must be held responsible for a potential wrong.
The six people who hid in a supermarket refrigerator during January’s Islamist attacks in the city of Paris have called into action their legal teams. Those six, forced to suffer through tremendous fear, are now suing the French media establishment for broadcasting their location live during the siege.
Images broadcast from the scene, on January 9th, 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 one of the legal team representing the group, Patrick Klugman.
Klugman singled out French 24-hour news channel BFMTV, which revealed live on air that the group, which included 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. This kind of revelation could have led to disastrous consequences and it is only by sheer chance that such a tragedy did not occur.
Klugman told AFP on Thursday that, “The working methods of media in real time in this type of situation were tantamount to goading someone to commit a crime.” This was just another part of a statement where Klugman roundly criticised coverage by other outlets, more specifically of security force 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,” Klugman said. Klugman would also reveal 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. This whilst appearing like a small sum appears to be more about the statement that a 24 hour news cycle could have potentially put lives at risk.
Hopefully this will mean that the French media coverage of similar incidents will take more care not to reveal details which could be harmful to those still in the situation. What’s more hopefully it can help to reform a system which means that the media potentially know more than the police or endanger police investigations with their own speculation.