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Africa

Dieudonné cleared over video calling for anti-Semitic murderer's release

media Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala at a press conference Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

A French court yesterday acquitted controversial comic Dieudonné M'bala M'bala on charges related to a video in which he calls for the release of a self-styled Islamist serving life for the kidnap and murder of a Jewish salesman.

The controversial performer, who has previous convictions for anti-Semitic hate speech, was cleared of defamation and illegally defending a convicted criminal because it was not proved that he was behind the distribution of the video and so the court could not consider its content.

The French Jewish students' union (UEJF), which brought the case, said it would appeal.

In the video Dieudonné complains about "the power of the Jewish lobby" and calls for the release of Youssouf Fofana, a man of Ivorian descent who is currently serving a life sentence for the abduction and murder of 23-year-old Ilan Halimi, a phone salesman of French-Moroccan-Jewish descent.

Fofana's self-styled "Barbarians" gang kidnapped Halimi in 2006, holding him for 24 days and frequently torturing him.

They released him after failing to extract a ransom, leaving him handcuffed naked to a tree, and he died on his way to hospital.

The authorities are currently trying to force Dieudonné to pay outstanding fines for his race-hate convictions.

They are also investigating him for suspected money-laundering.

Dieudonné was banned from entering Britain this week after the government declared him a threat to public order.

The UEJF is seeking a court order to Dieudonné to withdraw one of his videos from YouTube in the hope that its will lead to all his videos being taken down.

A ruling on that case is expected on Wednesday.

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