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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 break-up fake Bordeaux wine ring

Police investigating drug-trafficking in south west France have broken up a counterfeit Bordeaux wine ring following an eight-month investigation.

French police break-up fake Bordeaux wine ring

Prosecutors said that 100 gendarmes were involved in an operation to arrest up to 20 suspects in seven départements after the fake wine scam was discovered when fake wine labels were discovered by officers investigating a drugs ring. 

During searches, a dozen vehicles and, “a large volume of wine” were seized, they added.

They estimated that several hundred thousand bottles of Spanish wine had been passed off as being from the Médoc wine region of France.

Investigations involving a dedicated police unit revealed “a large-scale fraud organised by the owner of a vineyard in the Médoc”, police said, who obtained wine via “Spanish contacts”, bottled it at night and put fake labels on the bottles.

The fake wines were then sold “by the pallet” in several areas via “a network of official and unofficial distributors made up of companies, pensioners and self-employed people”, according to prosecutors. 

Orders amounting to several thousand bottles were sent abroad, with customers believing they were buying Bordeaux chateau wines at bargain prices, prosecutors said, when the bottles really contained “low-end wines …. from remote areas”.

Three suspects, including someone described as the ‘main instigator’ appeared before an examining magistrate on Wednesday and was charged with a variety of offences linked to fraud.

A source close to the case told AFP that the counterfeiting targeted mid-range Médoc wines, which are easier to counterfeit than the grand crus. 

“If the facts are proven, we hope that the perpetrators will be heavily condemned because these practices harm the image of Bordeaux wines and the image of all those who work well and respect the rules,” reacted the Interprofessional Council of Bordeaux Wine contacted by AFP.

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