Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Book on Mitterrand Banned, Court Cites Issue of Privacy

PARIS -- A court Thursday banned further sales of a book asserting that Fran?ois Mitterrand knew he had cancer since 1981 and was unable to carry out his duties near the end of his 14-year reign.


The court also prohibited further editions of "The Great Secret" and said it would impose a fine of 1,000 francs ($200) for each book sold after the ruling.


In the book, Dr. Claude Gubler, who treated Mitterrand from 1969 to 1994, says the former president declared his health "a state secret" despite promises to tell the truth to the French people.


"The revelations in 'The Great Secret' constitute by their nature a particularly serious intrusion into the intimacy of private family life," wrote Court President Jacqueline Cochard.


"Every person, irregardless of their rank, birth or functions, has the right to have their private life respected," she wrote.


A first press run of 40,000 copies appeared in bookstores Wednesday and was quickly sold out.


The publisher, Plon, said it was ready to print 70,000 copies a day to meet what was expected to be huge demand.


The court acted after Mitterrand's family sued Gubler for violating the late president's medical privacy. Mitterrand died Jan. 8 of prostate and bone cancer after having served as president from 1981 to 1995.


"French law is extremely protective of privacy, and in this case the court decided to favor the spirit of that legislation without taking into account the fact that this case involves a president of the republic," said Bernard Cahen, Plon's lawyer.


Cahen said he likely would appeal.


Lawyers for the publisher and Gubler argued before the court that the publication of 28 medical bulletins during Mitterrand's two seven-year terms had placed the former president's health in the public domain.


In his health bulletins, Mitterrand never revealed he had cancer since 1981.


One of the doctors who treated the late president during the last two years of his life said Thursday that Mitterrand was treated by a U.S. chemotherapist in 1994, with "disastrous" results.


Dr. Philippe de Kuyper, speaking on France Info Radio, didn't identify the American doctor, saying only he was from Detroit, Michigan.