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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

French Taser seller loses lawsuit against Amnesty

March 11, 2008

The French distributor of Taser stun guns lost a suit it filed against human rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday, court documents showed.

A Paris court ordered SMP Technologies, which supplies the French police, to pay legal fees and 3,000 euros ($4,600) in fines to Amnesty for bringing an unwarranted suit against it over a paper the group published denouncing the Taser.

Amnesty said in May 2007 that 220 deaths had been linked to the gun, and that French police-model Tasers had been put up for sale at the online auction site eBay. They later retracted their statement about the police model.

"We have admitted that we were wrong about the X26 appearing on eBay, but our position regarding Taser deaths is clear," said Benoit Muracciole, arms control director for Amnesty France.

"Research we conducted for 2001 to 2006 shows that in around 220 cases in the United States and Canada, people have died after being hit by a Taser blast," he said.

Canada’s national police force decided last December to restrict their use of the gun after a video of a dying Polish man hit by a police Taser provoked widespread outrage.

The Taser stun gun incapacitates people through a 50,000-volt jolt of electricity, and the same charge is used in sleeker civilian models. Police say they are a needed non-lethal alternative to firearms.

Taser says there is no scientific proof the gun has caused any deaths. The company had record revenue figures in February, after reporting revenues of more than $100 million in 2007.

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