Friday, July 22, 2016

Controversy over videotapes of the killings of Nice – Liberation

With its 1256 CCTV cameras, the city of Nice is the most filmed France. The day after the deadly race Lahouaiej Bouhlel Mohamed who made 84 dead and over 200 injured on the Promenade des Anglais, investigators are therefore interested in these precious evidence they have viewed, extracted and placed under seal.

a few days later, Wednesday, July 20 at 11 am, the Anti-terrorism sub-directorate (SDAT) sent an urgent legal requisition in charge of urban security center in Nice (CSU), according to information from the Le Figaro . It is requested, with the agreement of the prosecution to proceed with the “complete obliteration” of CCTV images on the evening of the attack and the next day. The former mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has reacted strongly to this request, citing a conspiracy. “The state wants to erase all traces, or we need the truth to victims. That is why I opposed this requisition “, he said in Le Parisien. The terms used by the elected suggests that justice demands simply to Nice town to destroy evidence of the carnage. Sub course: it would thus mask the shortcomings of the security state. But we must remember that these images (some 30 000 hours of recording) have been seized by the court and paid to the investigation file. It therefore does not matter “to erase all traces” but only the original images.

What exactly demand justice?

The requisition SDAT, including Libération has been copied, addresses “the complete erasure of video recordings of all cameras by the promenade des Anglais and filming for most of they committed terrorist action in the evening of July 14 “. So it concerns more than 20 hours of images that are between July 14 at 22:30, when the terrorist murderer starts his journey on the Promenade des Anglais and the next day at 18 am, at the end of the evacuation of all body.

the court also asks the Nice CSU responsible for destroying “all copies of recordings of the scene carried out judicial framework” . In other words, the only CCTV footage which must remain searchable are those currently in the hands of justice. The requisition is based, inter alia, Articles 53 and following of the Code of Criminal Procedure. “If a copy is made, may be undertaken on the instructions of the public prosecutor, to permanently erased from the physical medium that has not been placed under judicial control, computer data which possession or use is illegal or dangerous to the safety of persons or property “, provided in Article 56.

What are the reasons for such a request?

to be clear, these are not the revelations of Libération in its edition of July 22 – highlighting, image support, flaws in the communication of the highest authorities on the security device – that inspired such a request since it was sent to the city the day before the publication of the newspaper. Moreover, according to Nice-Matin , this injunction was even already made orally by July 15th by police officers SDAT with personal supervision of the urban center of Nice.

the prosecution therefore sweeps all polemical context of the resources deployed to secure the promenade des Anglais and highlights a technical measure: “These are very violent images, very shocking, contrary to the dignity of victims . We do not want that they find themselves in the media or on the Internet. “ It must be remembered that after the attacks of November 13, the owner of the pizzeria Casa Nostra, to which the shooting was accused of having sold for 50 000 CCTV images of its establishment in tabloid Daily Mail. After viewing by the police, the original video had been encrypted. However, the precaution was useless. This legal requisition rather unprecedented, can therefore be read as a way to learn from the past.

What is the response of the city of Nice?

“This is not a standard procedure and there is no valid justification for this requisition, denounces M th Philippe Blanchetier, counsel for the city of Nice. There is no risk of leakage since the only agents who have access to these images are relevant staff of the CSU and the police “. The law sets a maximum month statutory hold period of CCTV images beyond, they are automatically destroyed. “A Nice, for technical reasons, this period is often of ten days” says the lawyer.

The city decided Friday morning to refuse to perform destruction of records and seized the prosecutor of Nice and the national Commission for informatics and liberties (CNIL) in order to keep them beyond their legal duration. Me Philippe Blanchetier emphasizes indeed the need to keep such evidence that may be useful in the context of separate proceedings to that of the attack. “The victims’ families have already announced their intention to file a complaint against the state and the city of Nice for failure in security. It is necessary to provide them with all the elements that can contribute to the manifestation of the truth “, says he.

Julie Brafman


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