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French cartoonist acquitted over Pope paedophilia caricature

A Madagascar, deux journalistes du quotidien national Madagascar Matin sont sous mandat de dépôt, accusés de « diffamation » après la publication, il y a une dizaine de jours, d’un courrier des lecteurs dans lequel trois ministres sont accusés nommément de
A Madagascar, deux journalistes du quotidien national Madagascar Matin sont sous mandat de dépôt, accusés de « diffamation » après la publication, il y a une dizaine de jours, d’un courrier des lecteurs dans lequel trois ministres sont accusés nommément de Getty Images/ Romilly Lockyer

One of France's best-known cartoonists has been cleared of charges of inciting hatred and violence in a court case over a drawing depicting Pope Benedict XVI sodomising a child.

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A Paris court acquitted Jean Plantureux, aka Plantu, on Tuesday in a case concerning a drawing was published on his website 22 March 2010 and later used by Le Monde Magazine on 3 April.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

The right-wing organisation Alliance Against Racism and Respect for French and Christian Identity  (Agrif) took exception to the drawing and lodged a complaint for "incitement to hatred or violence" against Catholics
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Entitled "Paedophilia: Pope takes a position", the drawing featured the former Pope sodomising a child who says: "To avoid getting screwed, get out and vote on Sunday!” referring to the regional elections taking place that weekend.

“The drawing had neither the purpose nor intention of stigmatising the Catholic community or even the clergy," the tribunal judged, while conceding that it could have "legitimately shocked certain people, especially the faithful".

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The court further noted that the aim of the drawing was to denounce the Church's institutional silence in respect to the victims of recent paedophilia scandals and its inappropriate response in dealing with them, which the German federal Ministry of Justice described as wall of silence.

The tribunal ordered Agrif to pay 2,000 euros for Plantu's legal costs but rejected a defence call for Agrif to be punished for wasting the court's time.
 

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