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France's National Audiovisual Institute to restore, digitise Nelson Mandela trial recordings
US President Barack Obama looks out the window from the cell where Nelson Mandela, an anti-apartheid legend, was once jailed on Robben Island, on June 30, 2013. Paying homage to the 94-year-old former South-African president, who is critically ill in hospital, Obama stared into the stark cell where Mandela spent two thirds of his 27 years in jail. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON.
PARIS (AFP).- France's National Audiovisual Institute (INA) announced Friday it would restore and digitise the recordings of the Rivonia Trial that saw Nelson Mandela and seven other anti-apartheid activists sentenced to life in jail.

The original audio recordings of the 1963-1964 court case -- described as one of the most significant political trials in South African history -- are old and deteriorating.

INA, the world's largest digital archive, "will be in charge of the digitisation, restoration and indexing of the recordings" of the trial, it said in a statement, adding it would make them available to the public.

The project was announced as France and South Africa officially closed an eight-month nationwide event in France showcasing the African country through exhibitions, concerts and other happenings, in the presence of South African Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile.

The Rivonia Trial saw Mandela, whose death on December 5 prompted a global outpouring of grief and tributes, sent to Robben Island where he spent 18 of his 27 years in prison.

During his defence, Mandela made a speech that was to electrify the courtroom, South Africa and the world.

It ended with the words: "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.

"It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

The speech was to become the manifesto of the anti-apartheid movement.

"This trial was a turning point in the fight against apartheid and continues to be a key moment in the global struggle for human rights and human dignity," INA said in the statement.

On February 11, 1990, Mandela walked free from prison to lead political negotiations that paved the way for the country's first democratic elections in 1994.

The vote saw him elected the country's first black president.



© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse





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