(AFP) – Nov 25, 2007
PARIS (AFP) — Antoine di Zazzo says he has been 'tasered' more than 50 times and never felt the worse for the ordeal.
One of the biggest Taser representatives outside the US base, Di Zazzo also gave a surprise blast of the stun gun to French far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen and offered a test dose to Nicolas Sarkozy before he became France's president.
Sarkozy diplomatically declined, according to di Zazzo, but the president's no-nonsense law and order tactics are one reason why the engineer businessman is confident of huge demand for the gun, despite controversy over its use in North America and being declared a form of torture by a UN committee.
The French leader vowed before his election in May to buy a Taser -- which paralyses targets -- for every policeman and gendarme in France which could provide a market for at least 300,000 guns alone.
The Taser France chief said he has endured more than 50 Taser shots during tests and demonstrations of the gun.
"You cannot call it real pain," said di Zazzo. "I just found that time was infinitely long." In reality, a shot from the gun, which packs a 50,000 volt punch immobilises suspects for a few seconds.
National Front leader Le Pen, who was 79 at the time, went to inspect the gun last year because of the headlines it made when Sarkozy made his pledge as interior minister. "He did not want to try it but I took him a bit by surprise," said di Zazzo.
"He has special protection because he is a leading politician but I got round them and fired into his shoulder. He fell over but got up again and then went around telling people: 'You are shaking the hand of the man who has tried Sarkozy's toy'."
There are already about 250,000 of the stun guns in use, mainly in North America, but about 70 other countries are buying or trying Tasers -- including Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Singapore and New Zealand, said di Zazzo.
All countries are watching the debate in the United States and Canada over the use of the gun which fires two probes at targets at speeds of more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) per hour.
The electric jolt in the probes causes what the US company calls the "immediate loss of the person's neuromuscular control". The suspect is temporarily paralysed.
There has been much debate in Canada after a 40-year-old Polish man died last month after he was 'tasered' by police. Another 36-year-old man died Saturday five days after an altercation with police who used a Taser to subdue him.
There have been at least three other deaths this week in the United States after police use of the Taser.
Amnesty International has said there have been about 300 deaths around the world after Taser use and has called for it to be suspended while a full investigation into the impact is conducted.
On Friday, the UN Committee said the stun gun "causes acute pain, constituting a form of torture".
Taser International says that no death has been attributed to the use of the gun and that the controversy is caused by misunderstanding of new technology. It has won more than 50 legal cases in the United States alleging the gun was linked to a death.
"If electricity was to kill it would do so straight away," said di Zazzo. "In most of these cases people have carried on fighting or struggling after they were hit by the Taser and had recovered. In a lot of these cases there is a drug overdose or cerebral delirium involved."
"In Canada, the man carried on struggling afterwards and was hit by batons and the police knelt on him. You can also die from being hit with a baton or knelt on," he added.
Taser says its device "saves lives" because it is an effective alternative to a real gun. Each stun round is videod by a camera on the gun for future evidence.
Di Zazzo's French company is also developing a mini-flying saucer like drone which could also fire Taser stun rounds on criminal suspects or rioting crowds. He expects it to be launched next year and to be sold internationally by Taser.
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