During the circus surrounding Ali B’s lawsuit, ‘trial by media’ morphs into ‘trial by media’

A media circus is not unusual in court cases involving a famous suspect. But Saskia Belleman, an experienced court reporter from The Telegraph“has never experienced” the role of the media being as important as in the trial of Ali B, the rapper and presenter suspected of two sexual assaults and two rapes.

In this process, the media not only influences the image, but also the planning of the process. On Thursday afternoon, the second day of the hearing, Ali B requests that the prosecutor’s letter announcing the sentence against him can be moved to Friday. This would take place on the same day as the testimony of his lawyer, Bart Swier. This leads to less one-sided reporting, Swier says.

“What matters to you is what is being discussed tonight on the television programs?” asks one of the judges by way of clarification.

“Exactly,” Swier responds.

“If my statement comes on the same day as the prosecutor’s indictment, the media will publish a more balanced story,” Swier explains by phone after the hearing.

This is important because, as Ali B repeatedly says in court, “imaging exists.” According to him, there is trial by media. Since joining the YouTube program in January 2022 Angry He was accused of sexual abuse, there are people who no longer want to be associated with him, he said Wednesday.

Exceptional decision

The court recognizes the importance of the image, because it decides to grant his request. Therefore, the sentence will not be announced until Friday. An exceptional decision, says criminal law expert Henny Sackers. This may be the first time that the content of television programs determines the planning of a criminal trial in this way, he says. “At least I don’t remember any other examples.”

An influential television program in this case is RTL Boulevard, which dedicated 31 of the 38 minutes of Wednesday’s broadcast to him. “Ali, good morning, do you consider yourself a sexual predator?” journalist Aran Bade asked the suspect in the morning in the court parking lot, where he was greeted by a group of cameramen.

For programs like RTL Boulevard The case is also attractive – 1.1 million people watched it on Wednesday, 200,000 more than the previous week – because they can take advantage of dramatic courtroom footage: it showed how Jill Helena, who claims to have been assaulted, spoke in a broken voice . about the suffering that Ali B allegedly caused her, who looked at her with teary eyes.

Transparency

Both Ali B and Jill Helena have given permission to broadcast everything. “Ali believes it is in her interest to be completely transparent and honest about what she believes occurred,” says her attorney Swier.

“Jill believes it is important for her story to be seen and heard,” says her lawyer, Sébas Diekstra. ‘The complete history. So that everyone can clearly understand how it happened and what the impact of this event is on her life.’

The judicial television trend began in 2011, says Sackers, when parts of the trial against Geert Wilders were broadcast live on television. The politician was eventually acquitted of suspicions of insulting a group, inciting hatred and inciting discrimination.

Things have moved pretty quickly since then. The courtroom images are no longer exceptional, according to Sackers. On the one hand, he considers it a positive development. “Not all of society fits in the public gallery and this makes the criminal process controllable.” On the other hand, says Sackers, a lot of attention is currently paid to certain issues, while others continue to be ignored. “If a case, because the suspect is a celebrity, is talked about at length on talk shows for days, there may be something excessive about it.”

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