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CRIME

French boy killed in washing machine

Police in France have charged a 33-year-old father with murder after he allegedly killed his three-year-old son by stuffing him into a washing machine and turning it on.

The man, identified in reports as Christophe Champenois, was charged with “murder of a minor” late Sunday in the city of Meaux near Paris, court sources said.

The boy’s mother was charged with failing to prevent a crime and failing to assist a person in danger.

Both were held without bail.

A source connected with the case said the child appeared to have died from “a blow to the head”.

Neighbours said the boy, Bastien, died on Friday after his father put him naked in the washing machine to punish him for getting into trouble at nursery school.

A neighbour who gave her name only as Alice told journalists that she had seen the boy’s body after his mother had come to her apartment for help.

“I took the little boy in my arms, he was frozen, completely naked. He was all white, limp, practically like a toy,” said Alice, who lives in the same apartment building as the couple in Germiny L’Eveque, a town of 1,300 people.

Alice said the boy’s mother had attempted to resuscitate him with heart massage but failed.

A source connected with the inquiry said the man was denying the charges and asserting that the boy had fallen down the stairs.

But witness testimony and tests on the body were “consistent with the fact that the child was put into a washing machine,” the source said.

The source said the father had apparently been punishing the boy for misbehaving at his nursery school and said the child had been repeatedly abused, including by being locked up for hours in a cupboard.

CRIME

French police bust cross-Channel people-smuggling ring

French police have busted a major people-smuggling ring that has been sending migrants to Britain in dinghies, with more than a dozen boats and 700 life jackets seized in a raid, French authorities said Thursday.

French police bust cross-Channel people-smuggling ring

The ring was run by Iraqi Kurdish migrants and had a logistics hub in Lille, a northern French city about 100 kilmetres (60 miles) from the northern Channel beaches around Calais that are used for crossings.

Three Iraqi men have been charged, along with three French suspects after their arrest on Monday.

Police discovered “a real factory supplying nautical equipment” in Lille, the head of French anti-migration agency Ocriest, Xavier Delrieu, told AFP.

In what was their biggest ever seizure of equipment, they found 13 inflatable boats, 14 outboard engines, 700 life jackets, 100 pumps and 700 litres of fuel, Delrieu said.

The group is suspected of having organised 80 Channel crossings over the summer, of which 50 succeeded, with the smugglers netting around €80,000 for each one.

The arrests came due to intelligence-sharing between authorities in Belgium, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, who are all trying to crack down on migrants crossing the Channel by boat.

The original tip-off came after a border guard control discovered a group of French youths carrying inflatables from Germany into the Netherlands.

More migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK from northern France so far this year than in the whole of 2021.

So far this year, more than 30,000 people have been detected crossing the Channel to the UK, fresh government figures showed Thursday. On Wednesday alone, the authorities detected another 667 people.

Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, has faced some criticism from other Conservatives and in right-wing media outlets for not pressing for more French action against the crossings when she met President Emmanuel Macron in New York on Tuesday.

Downing Street said the issue did not come up at their talks on the margins of the UN General Assembly, which instead focused on common ground including Ukraine and energy security.

The crossings are among a host of issues that have badly strained Franco-British relations in recent years.

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