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Elsewhere, Frank Rich writing in the New York Times, thought that Disney would not hinder distribution of the film, 'on account of the money to be made.' And the White House, if it tries to muffle the film, 'will fan the PR flames' for the director.

Frank Rich also wrote that 'Fahrenheit 9/11' isn't the film you might expect from Michael Moore. In it, the past that we all know well enough is merely sketched, while today's actual news headlines have caught up to the film's content – which is not something that Mr. Moore could have written into the script.

The director's opponents should know that Michael Moore nearly removes himself the second half of 'Fahrenheit 9/11' –photo: ile de la cite and lets the story tell itself. He only jumps in right at the end, to praise 'America's volunteer army,' to conclude, "And all they ask for in return is that we never send them into harm's way unless it is absolutely necessary."

On the Ile de la Cité last Thursday.

Other prizes were the Grand Prix award for Park Chen–Wook's 'Old Boy.' The best woman's role award went to Maggie Cheung for her part in 'Clean,' directed by Olivier Assayas of France. Yagira Yunya won the male actor's award for appearing in 'Nobody Knows,' directed by Kore–Eda Hirokazu of Japan. The best director award was picked up by Tony Gatlif, for the French film 'Exils.' For best script, Agnès Jaoui and Jean–Pierre Bacri shared the honor for their work on 'Comme une Image.' The prestige 'Prix du Jury' went to Inna P. Hall in 'Ladykillers' by Joel and Ethan Cohen, and to the film 'Tropical Melody,' directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul of Thailand.

Justice Stumbles

In late 2000 four kids going to the same school in the northern Pas–de– Calais, region were acting strange. One eight year old was questioned by a school assistant, and he said his parents had committed acts of sexual deviation.

Under questioning, the kid named whole lists of offenders – including his parents – his brothers did the same, and other kids at the same school made their accusations. At some point, Myriam Badaoui, mother of the initial kid, reinforced the accusations and a neighbor, Aurélie Grenon, backed her up. In all, 50 persons were implicated during the investigation.

In total, 19 adult suspects were placed in preventative detention in February of 2001. One committed suicide in prison in June of 2002. For one other, mentally handicapped, the charges were dropped.

Working with the lists of names, investigators followed trails in the Channel region of France, and included Belgium – the scene of the similar Dutroux affair. The police were searching for signs of a network of deviants, orgies on a farm, and the body of a dead girl. They searched for video tapes made of the orgies. But they discovered nothing.

Last Tuesday the trial was in its 11th day in Saint–Omar, when Myriam Badaoui, caught in contradictions of testimony by a defense attorney, said to the court, "Monsieur le Président, it is not obvious to say that kids are liars. I followed them. I've lied about everything. Pardon me."

Myriam Badaoui turned to Roselyne Godard, the former travelling baker of Tour–du–Renard, and said, "Pardon me Roselyne, you have done nothing."

The defendant, only a week earlier, had given up trying to get Myriam Badaoui to tell the 'truth.' Roselyne Godard had served 16 months in preventative detention.

With these few words of exoneration by the prosection's chief witness, the trial collapsed into confusion. But, of the 17 defendants, only Sandrine Lavier was released. She had been accused of raping 11 kids, including three of her own. She had been in prison since May of 2001.

For some reason the remaining defendants are supposed to continue with the trial. On Wednesday the case continued, with the president of the court calling again for witnesses. The audience was stupefied. In effect, 13 of 17 defendants had been exonerated the day before, one by one.

According to Myriam Badaoui, somephoto: bourquinistes of those accused by the kids were unknown to her. The judge told her a process server was involved and when she named the two she knew, the judge supplied the name of a third, who she'd never heard of before. She said the judge told her that kids don't lie.

Bouquinistes under the leaves.

And the court wasn't so certain either. The prosecutor of Boulogne requested the release of four of the accused in December of 2002, but the appeals court refused.

On Thursday some of the accused were wondering, if their principle accuser was scarcely believable, why was she also considered unbelievable if she exonerated those she charged.

But the 13 kids have yet to testify in court. There has never been a face–off between the victims and the accused. This is set for this week. The Minister of Justice, Dominique Perben, has said that the handling of the case will only be examined when the trial is over.

In the newspaper reports there is no mention of any material evidence. All of the accused claim that they are innocent, so none have made any confessions. As the trial now stands, the prosecution's case depends on the testimony of two self–acknowledged liars, and 13 children who do not know the names of some of the accused. Saying there is no smoke without fire shouldn't be 'good enough' for justice.

But today in court the whole affair upended on itself when Myriam Badaoui changed her testimony again, re–accusing everybody except the husband of the travelling baker, and added her own husband to the list of defendants for good measure.

Defense attorneys asked the court today to order a psychiatric examination for their star witness, Myriam Badaoui.

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