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CRIME

Frenchwoman jailed for killing her child

The Israeli grandfather and French mother of a four-year-old French girl were sentenced to life in prison on Monday for having murdered the child, public radio reported.

A court in the Israeli town of Petah Tikva, close to Tel Aviv, sided with the prosecutor who sought the maximum terms for Ronny Ron, the grandfather of Rose Pizem, and the child’s mother, Marie-Charlotte Renaud.

Renaud was in a relationship with Ron, the father of her ex-husband, Rose’s father.

On May 19, the court convicted Ron of killing the little girl, whose remains were found in a suitcase in a murky river near Tel Aviv in September 2008 after weeks of intensive searches and speculation.

And it convicted Renaud for having “solicited” the murder, saying she used her sway with Ron to convince him to carry out the crime.

“The accused incited her companion to get rid of Rose, knowing the influence she had on him and the possible consequences for Rose,” the court said on Monday, according to a copy of the sentence read on public radio.

Ron, the court added, “who has a violent personality, finding no other solution, decided to kill Rose and sink her in the river to get rid of her.”

Attorneys for the two said they would appeal the sentence.   

The case shocked Israel, both for the gruesome murder of a young girl and the messy family background.

Rose’s parents, Renaud and Benjamin Pizem, moved to Israel from France in 2004 but divorced the following year after Pizem discovered his wife was having an affair with Ron, his father.

Pizem moved back to France but Renaud stayed behind with Ron, who obtained custody of her daughter. The couple now have two children of their own.

Israeli police have described the case as “one of the most shocking in the country’s history.”

ENVIRONMENT

France to probe microplastic pellet pollution on Atlantic beaches

French prosecutors said on Friday they would investigate the appearance of vast quantities of tiny toxic plastic pellets along the Atlantic coast that endanger marine life and the human food chain.

France to probe microplastic pellet pollution on Atlantic beaches

The criminal probe will follow several legal complaints about the pellet invasion lodged by local authorities and the central government in Paris, Camille Miansoni, chief prosecutor in the western city of Brest, told AFP.

The microscopic pellets, called nurdles, are the building blocks for most of the world’s plastic production, from car bumpers to salad bowls.

They are usually packed in bags of 25 kilogrammes for transport, each containing around a million nurdles, which are sometimes called “Mermaids’ Tears”. 

But they can easily spill into the ocean when a cargo ship sinks or loses a container. Environmentalists also suspect that factories sometimes dump them into the sea.

Fish and birds often mistake them for food and, once ingested, the tiny granules can make their way into the diet of humans.

Experts told AFP the nurdles found along the coast of Brittany may have come from a plastic industry container that fell into the sea.

“We can’t rule out a single source for the industrial pellets,” said Nicolas Tamic at the CEDRE pollution research body in Brest.

On Tuesday, the French government filed a legal complaint against persons unknown and called for a international search for any containers that may have been lost at sea.

Local authorities have followed suit, and the environmental crime branch of the Brest prosecutor’s office will lead the investigation.

Last weekend, around 100 people took part in a clean-up campaign on a microplastic-infested beach in Pornic in Brittany to collect pellets and draw attention to the problem. 

“We think they’ve come from a container that may have been out there for a while and opened up because of recent storms,” said Lionel Cheylus, spokesman for the NGO Surfrider Foundation.

“Our action is symbolic. It’s not like we’re going to pick up an entire container load,” said Annick, a pensioner, as she filled her yoghurt pot with nurdles. 

French politicians have taken note. Joel Guerriau, a senator from the region, has called for a “clear international designation” of  the pellets as being harmful.

Ecological Transition Minister Christophe Bechu labelled the nurdles “an environmental nightmare”, telling AFP the government would support associations fighting pellet pollution.

Ingesting plastic is harmful for human health but nurdles, in addition, attract chemical contaminants found in the sea to their surface, making them even more toxic.

Measuring less than five millimetres in size, they are not always readily visible except when they wash up in unusually huge quantities, as has been the case since late November along the northwestern French coast.

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