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Charlie Hebdo to give €4.3m to attack victims

AFP · 18 May 2015, 17:07

Published: 18 May 2015 17:07 GMT+02:00

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The provocative weekly was on the brink of bankruptcy when two Islamist brothers in January gunned down 12 people at its offices, including journalists and two policemen, over its cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
The attack made the newspaper a household name around the world as the Twitter hashtag #jesuischarlie went viral and it became a symbol for freedom of speech.
Charlie Hebdo issues flew off the shelves and it was inundated with donations.
The publication's management said Monday in a statement that donations had come from 36,000 people in 84 different countries and would be "handed over in full to the victims."
"The distribution of this money will be entrusted to a committee of wise men which we have asked the justice ministry to choose," said the statement.
Charlie Hebdo has been split over the use of the money, with some staff members accusing management of not being transparent enough about its plans. 
Some 15 of the magazine's 20 staff have called for all employees to become equal shareholders in the magazine.
"This money must be given to the victims. That is the commitment that was made," said Patrick Pelloux, a Charlie Hebdo columnist who survived the attack and is part of the group calling for equal division of the magazine's capital.
"But, at this time we don't really know how that will happen," he told France Info radio, adding that management had not properly communicated its plans.
- 'Fanciful figures' -
Charlie Hebdo is currently 40 percent owned by the parents of Charb, the former director of the magazine who was killed in the January 7 attack; 40 percent by cartoonist Riss, who was injured during the shooting; and 20 percent by joint manager Eric Portheault.
In its statement management said it wanted to rectify the "fanciful figures that are circulating on the magazine's revenues."
Its total profits from sales since the attack are estimated at 12 million euros before company tax of 33.33 percent, said the shareholders, reiterating "their absolute commitment to collect no dividend from these sums."
Story continues below…
A lawyer representing the magazine's management earlier told AFP that the donations would go to victims' families, and that proceeds from sales would go into the magazine's coffers and would be used to create a foundation, notably to teach freedom of expression in schools.
Charlie Hebdo was selling 30,000 copies a week before the attack, and its "survivors issue" in the aftermath sold eight million copies, said Christophe Thevenet, a lawyer for the publication.
He said the most recent edition sold 170,000 copies and that circulation was expected to settle at around 100,000.
Cartoonist Riss told Le Monde newspaper that he was open to discussion on dividing Charlie Hebdo's capital, but only in September after it unveils its new format.
"Today, I fear we would take emotional decisions."
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