• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

French court frees naked hiker in landmark case

AFP/The Local · 11 Sep 2013, 17:56

Published: 11 Sep 2013 17:56 GMT+02:00

A naturist who liked to stroll naked in the woods of the Dordogne region of southwestern France has been acquitted of sexual exhibitionism charges.

A court in the town of Perigueux accepted the 52-year-old man's defence that he was no flasher after hearing testimony that he had once suffered an eye-watering injury after jumping into bushes to spare the blushes of a passer-by.

The accused's lawyer, Tewfik Bouzenoune, hailed the judgement as a victory for naturists everywhere.

"The court has made a distinction between sexual exhibitionism and naturism," he said.

"This was not about naked rambling, it is about people practising naturism with precautions.

"One of the precautions my client took was to always have clothing to hand so that he could hide his private parts. He wasn't trying to be provocative."

The charges against the man were brought after a complaint in February by a female walker who spotted the unclothed man from a distance and then, accompanied by her grandson, approached him to make sure he really was naked.

Jacques Freeman from the naturist association, APNEL (Association pour le promotion du naturisme en liberté) told The Local on Wednesday that the verdict will persuade other wrongly accused nudists not to fight for justice through the courts.

"The verdict is really important because at the moment naturists who are arrested simply plead guilty and pay the €300 fine because they cannot afford to go to court. But the court's ruling means that a naked hiker can only be arrested if there is proof they were intentionally provocative."

In an opinion piece for The Local earlier this year Freeman said that "naturists in France were being criminalised just for taking their clothes off".

“Naturists are being criminalized in France but being naked is not a crime. If you punch an old lady you can get a year in prison and you can get the same sentence just for taking your clothes off. It’s not right.

Story continues below…

"France is the number one tourist destination in the world for naturists with 2 million coming every year but at the same time we have this problem with the law."

After acquitting the man on Tuesday, the court on Wednesday rejected a request by his lawyers for the case to be referred to a higher court for a review of the law surrounding public nudity and sexual exhibitionism, as naturist organisations have been demanding in several European states.

"We should be able to get naked anywhere in France": CLICK HERE to read more of Jacques Freeman's interview with The Local.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Which of France's strikes could affect Euro 2016?
Photos: AFP

A series of ongoing strikes in France could continue to affect the country throughout the Euro 2016 tournament, which starts in just two weeks.

Fuel crisis eases as French police unblock depots
Tires on fire in front of an oil depot near the Total refinery of Donges, western France, on Friday. Photo: AFP

After a week of fuel shortages in France, things are improving in time for the weekend.

Opinion - French strikes
'Stop pissing everyone off': French boss to union chief
Philippe Martinez, the head of the CGT union. Photo: AFP

In an open letter to the man attempting to bring France to a standstill, a business owner tells him to stop "living in the past" and stop "pissing everyone off".

Want a '30-hour work week'? Move to Paris (or Lyon)
Lunchtime in Paris? Photo: reynermedia/Flickr

Workers in Paris and Lyon put in the fewest hours out of 71 major cities around the world. Lazy or supremely efficient.

The nations the French love to make fun of the most
Photo: Romain Seignovert

The British are not the French's top target, believe it or not.

What's the story behind French Neighbours' Day?
Families get together in the northern suburbs of Paris on Neighbour's Day. Photo: AFP

Fuel crisis
Renting a car in fuel-starved France? No need to panic
Photo: AFP

While France's fuel concerns have prompted holiday cancellations, car rental companies say travellers have nothing to worry about.

French soldier knifed by men 'angry over Syria bombings'
Photo: AFP

A French soldier was knifed by two men armed who he claimed reproached him for France's military intervention in Syria.

Opinion - Strikes in France
France is heading into a 'summer of discontent'
Photo: AFP

This isn’t 1970s Britain but France in 2016.

'Don't worry, France is far from running out of fuel'
The area around Paris and parts of western France appear to be the worst hit. Image: Essence smartphone app

French petroleum industry chiefs try to calm fears but trade unions have called for protests and strikes to be stepped up.

National
Which of France's strikes could affect Euro 2016?
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
'You're not welcome': French police chief warns English yobs
How to avoid running out of fuel if you're coming to France
National
It's Neighbours' Day! But what does it all mean?
National
The French fuel crisis for dummies: 27 key questions
National
The trials and tribulations of moving to rural France
National
Five free smartphone apps to help you find petrol in France
National
A complete guide to France's (many) ongoing strikes
Culture
Paris: Street artist makes the Louvre pyramid disappear
Interactive map: Where to find petrol in France
Who is the French union in a 'fight to the death' with the government?
Society
Opinion: Why the French are absolutely right to go on strike
National
Here's why both sides despise France's labour reforms
National
Who is really to blame for the fuel crisis in France?
National
Here are the parts of France hardest hit by the fuel shortages
Travel
It will soon be time to say 'au revoir' to the Paris Metro ticket
Culture
Revealed: The ultimate sex map of France
National
Migrants at Calais camp given dignity in death
International
How good is security at Charles de Gaulle airport?
Culture
How to make a traditional French cassoulet
Culture
IN PICS: Commuter trains in Paris get royal makeover
International
Terror attack 'likeliest cause' of missing EgyptAir plane
International
Who was on board the missing EgyptAir flight from Paris?
2,737
jobs available