Rapper on Trial for Taking a Liberté

Charles Bremner and Marie Tourres, Times (London), May 30, 2006

A video of naked women writhing against the French flag was played to judges yesterday at the trial of a rap star accused of disseminating obscene material to minors.

Richard Makela, 30, a Zairean-born rapper who performs as Monsieur R, has been brought to trial in a private prosecution by a conservative MP from the Pyrenees who says that lyrics and images from the internet video insult France.

Daniel Mach, an MP for President Chirac’s Union for a Popular Movement, is outraged over FranSSe, a song from Monsieur R’s 2005 album Politikment Incorrekt, in which he vows to urinate on Napoleon Bonaparte and General de Gaulle and says: “France is a bitch/ Don’t forget to f*** her/ To the point of exhaustion/ Like a slut/ She should be insulted.”

The case at Melun, in the southern Paris suburbs, is the latest in a dozen legal actions over the past decade against French rappers for lyrics deemed to insult national institutions. Most have failed.

Dominique Tricaud, the lawyer representing Monsieur R, said that he was certain his client would be acquitted in the name of freedom of speech, the grounds that have been used to exonerate performers in previous cases.

Monsieur R could face three years in prison or a €74,000 (£51,000) fine. But convictions in previous cases have produced suspended sentences and lesser fines.

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