Court suspends book implicating ex-ministers in murder
October 13, 1997, Agence France Presse
"A Paris court on Monday ordered the temporary suspension of a book which implicates two former French ministers in the 1994 mafia-style killing of a National Assembly deputy, Yann Piat. The court suspended sales of the book, "The Yann Piat affair: assassins at the heart of power," until October 24, when it will rule again on a defamation suit brought by the two politicians. Former defence minister Francois Leotard and former urban affairs minister Jean-Claude Gaudin [visitor Le Cercle] took legal action last week over accusations in the book that two senior politicians ordered Piat's murder. The pair are not named in the book, but details about them make it clear who is being referred to. Leotard and Gaudin have openly denounced their implication in the affair. The book, by two journalists, notably cites a senior former intelligence agent as saying the two politicians ordered Piat's murder on February 25, 1994 because she knew too much about alleged sales of military land to mafia-linked businessmen. Leotard, leader of the Union for French Democracy, France's main opposition centre-right political group, and Gaudin have asked the Paris court to delete certain passages from the book published earlier this month. ... The book has caused a storm in French political circles since it was published earlier this month. Former defence minister Francois Leotard and former urban affairs minister Jean-Claude Gaudin took legal action last week over accusations in the book that two senior politicians ordered Piat's murder. The pair are not named in the book by journalists Andre Rougeot and Jean-Michel Verne, but details about them make it clear who is being referred to. Leotard and Gaudin have openly denounced their implication in the affair. Piat, 44, was shot dead on February 25, 1994 by two men on a motorbike which drew up alongside her car as she returned to her French Riviera home. Until now the affair has been considered a purely mafia killing. Leotard, leader of the Union for French Democracy, France's main opposition centre-right political group, and Gaudin, UDF mayor of Marseilles, have asked the court to delete certain passages from the book. The book notably cites a senior former intelligence agent as saying the two politicians ordered Piat killed because she knew too much about alleged sales of military land to mafia-linked businessmen. ... Gaudin welcomed Monday's court decision. "If the book's authors cannot produce by October 24 the evidence which so far is entirely absent from their work, they will be convicted," he said in a statement. "The process of re-establishing the truth has begun. They must pay the price for their lies," he said."
October 28, 1997, Associated Press Online, 'French Publisher Pulls Book':
"A French court ordered a publishing house Tuesday to excise passages in a book that linked a former defense minister to murder. In response, the publisher withdrew the controversial book. The court's decision highlighted the traditional willingness of French courts to censor or ban books that run up against the country's strict libel and privacy laws. ... Without using names, their book implies that Leotard and Marseille Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin, a former minister of urban affairs, were responsible. The book used nicknames but provided identifying details. The book provoked a storm in political circles. Conservative politicians called it a plot to destabilize rightist candidates ahead of next year's regional elections. Leotard sued the book's authors, journalists Andre Rougeot and Jean-Michel Verne, and publisher Flammarion, demanding that the offending passages be removed. A Paris court late Tuesday ordered publisher Flammarion to immediately recall all books and remove the offending passages. It said it would fine the publisher $830 each time an uncensored book was sold. ''Rather than suppress the passages, the editor has chosen to withdraw the book from distribution,'' said Flammarion's lawyer, Jean-Yves Dupeux. The court said the journalists ''were not able to establish the truth of the facts and the seriousness of the investigation they claim to have led.'' Rougeot had refused to disclose the name of his source, identified only as an officer in military intelligence. Both Gaudin and Leotard say they are pursuing separate defamation lawsuits." January 20, 1998, Associated Press, 'Authors ordered to pay damages for book on politician's slaying': "A French court ordered two authors and their publisher to pay damages for a book that implicated ranking politicians in the killing of an anti-corruption crusader. Marseille Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin had sued the authors of "Yann Piat, Assassins at the Heart of Power" for $ 1.6 million. The judge on Tuesday ordered the authors, Jean-Michel Verne and Andre Rougeot, to pay Gaudin about $ 32,000 each. Their publisher, Flammarion, was ordered to pay Gaudin about $ 50,000. ... Verne said he stood by his book. "I have the conviction that politicians were involved in the murder of Yann Piat," he said. "The conviction supported by evidence I gathered since the book came out. "I tell those people implicated that they will not escape their destiny," he said."