Reports on the exorcism trial currently underway in Paris suburb of Essonne cast an interesting light on the internal workings of the French wire service AFP (Agence France Presse). And these gleanings do not do it credit.
A 7 October 2013 story about four people accused of having tortured a woman while they were performing an exorcism, shows gaps between the English and French versions. The four accused exorcists claim to be members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and were motivated by that church’s teachings when they performed their exorcism. The English-language version reports the four are ex-Adventists. The French branch of the church also states its beliefs do not support amateur exorcisms.
The French version states the four say they were motivated by their Seventh-day Adventist faith — but omits the disclaimers and distancing by the church.
What can we make of this discrepancy? The English language version of the story as published in the Sydney Morning Herald under the headline “French torture trial opens over ‘exorcism’” opens with:
Four former members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church have gone on trial for torture over a violent, crucifixion-style exorcism carried out on a 19-year-old woman. Three men and a woman are accused of tying up the Cameroonian teenager in the position of Christ on the cross and keeping her bound to a mattress for seven days in the belief that her body had been possessed by the devil.
The four, including the victim’s former boyfriend, were charged with kidnapping, acts of torture and barbarism.
Style note — the proper designation for the church is Seventh-day Adventist, to whit a dash between Seventh and day and a lower case “d” in day.
The French language version as published in Libération under the headline “Ouverture du procès des exorcistes de l’Essonne” has a very different lede.
Le procès de quatre personnes, soupçonnées d’avoir séquestré et torturé une jeune femme pour l’exorciser, s’est ouvert lundi devant la cour d’assises de l’Essonne. Les quatre accusés, qui se réclament d’un mouvement protestant évangélique, comparaissent pour «arrestation, enlèvement et séquestration avec actes de torture ou de barbarie». Ils encourent la prison à perpétuité.
The trial of four people suspected of having kidnapped and tortured a young woman in order to perform an exorcism opened Monday at the Assize Court of Essonne.The four defendants, who claim to be part of an evangelical Protestant movement, have been charged to “false imprisonment, kidnapping with torture or barbarism.”< They face life in prison.
In the English language version the four are identified as being immigrants from the French Caribbean who are “former” members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And AFP reports the French branch of the church states the four have nothing to do with them.
The church says the people involved in the case were all expelled a year before the alleged attack and has stressed that exorcism of this kind cannot be justified by any of its teachings.