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Magazine fined for deathbed photos of former President Mitterrand

January 13, 1997

PARIS (AP) _ A French court fined the publisher of popular photo magazine Paris-Match $18,600 Monday for printing a picture of Francois Mitterrand on his deathbed.

Roger Therond, convicted of invasion of privacy, also was ordered to pay a symbolic compensation of 20 cents in damages to each member of the former president’s family.

``Public officials, and heads of state in particular, do not constitute a separate category of beings″ whose importance deprives them of the ``elementary rights of all individuals,″ the federal court ruled.

The two photos were published Jan. 25, 1996, almost two weeks after Mitterrand’s death at 79.

They showed Mitterand’s corpse, clothed in a dark suit, on a bed in his Paris apartment.

Therond refused to identify the person who took the photograph.

Citing ``mitigating circumstances,″ the court did not fine Therond the maximum $56,000 penalty, noting that members of Mitterrand’s family had made numerous contacts with the news media following his death. The court said this proved that damage to the family was not long-lasting.

Mitterrand, a Socialist, had suffered from prostate cancer throughout his 14-year presidency, it was revealed after his death. He had admitted to suffering from prostate cancer only in 1992.

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