Former Israeli defense minister Ariel Sharon today called again on Time magazine to apologize for the paragraph in a February 1983 cover story on the Beirut massacre that prompted his $50 million libel suit.
Sharon told reporters outside the Manhattan courtroom that a weekend reexamination of secret Israeli documents describing his role in the 1982 refugee-camp massacres "proved again that Time magazine lied."
"I think that helped to destroy the smokescreen . . . by which Time magazine tried to protect the lies for months," Sharon said of the review, which took place Sunday in Jerusalem.
U.S. District Court Judge Abraham D. Sofaer postponed until Wednesday consideration of how the results of the review will be presented to the jury.
The examination was conducted by Yitzhak Kahan, who as Israeli chief justice headed the commission that in late 1982 and early 1983 investigated the massacres. Two Israeli lawyers, one representing Time and the other Sharon, also inspected the secret papers during the examination at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem.
Kahan reported to Sofaer that he found no evidence to support Time's claim that the papers included information suggesting that Sharon had foreknowledge of, and acquiesced in, the massacre when he sent Lebanese Christian Phalangists into the two Palestinian refugee camps in September 1982.
Time said Monday that it "strenuously objects" to limitations imposed on the review and believes it was denied access to "potential crucial information."
A Time spokesman said its Israeli representative, former minister of justice Haim Zadok, had "expressed reservations" about the conclusions Kahan drew from the documents and forwarded to Sofaer.
Closing arguments in the trial are expected soon. Outside the courtroom here today, Sharon told reporters: "I think the simplest thing for Time to do is to retract and apologize."