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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Taser seller sues Amnesty International

March 5, 2008
ABC News

The French reseller of Taser stun guns, dogged by scandals over Taser-linked deaths in Canada and the United States, has taken Amnesty International to court for harming its reputation.

In May last year, the French branch of Amnesty issued a statement claiming that a Taser gun had been put up for auction on eBay and that 220 US deaths had been linked to the Taser gun.

Following a complaint from SMP Technologies, which has imported and supplied Taser guns to the French army, police and gendarmerie since 2004, Amnesty later said it had sent out the statement by mistake.

Upon investigation, the rights group said the object for sale on eBay had turned out to be a publicity gadget, not a Taser gun.

According to SMP's lawyer, Catherine Hennequin, Amnesty agreed to publish a clarification but has yet to do so eight months on, and has continued to claim that deaths were linked to the weapon's use.

Amnesty's lawyer Simon Foreman says his client was mistaken about the eBay sale, but not about the "dangerous nature" of the Taser itself, accusing SMP of taking legal action "with the sole aim of intimidation".

Amnesty International says around 300 people have died around the world after being zapped with a Taser and has called for the weapon's use to be suspended while a full investigation is conducted.

The Taser packs a 50,000-volt punch that can paralyse targets from up to 10 metres away. The United Nations Committee against Torture ruled in November that its use constitutes "a form of torture" which can result in death.

The UN criticism followed a string of deaths in the United States and Canada that occurred after police used Tasers to subdue people, including a Polish man who was filmed dying after being stunned at Vancouver airport.

A verdict in the French trial is due on March 11.

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