Courtroom drama

Everybody knows how most television channels would cover the trial of alleged November 17 suspects next month if cameras were to be allowed in the courtroom; their track record suggests what their intentions would be. There would be sensationalism, scaremongering and melodrama – the same approach the channels use when tackling any major incident in both public and (now totally vulnerable) private life. Indeed, since the beginning of last summer we have seen television channels defame as terrorists so many people who have not actually done anything, along with their uncritical dissemination of police leaks as «news reports.» We have even stigmatized the N17 suspects’ lawyers as pro-terrorism, sacrificing the whole legal profession on the altar of vulgarity. And I fear the defense witnesses will face the same treatment. However, neither television’s disappointing track record in handling the subject nor the behavior that television channels are likely to display legitimizes the banning of cameras and tape recorders from the courtroom. This is not simply a case of creating a «sterilized» environment to keep any polluting influence at bay; it is like trying to convince someone to cut off their head to avoid suffering from a possible headache later on. Also, this gives suspects the opportunity to claim that the government is worried about what they may say and the impact of this on society.

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