A planned sale of torture instruments in Paris which belonged to one of France's last executioners has been cancelled, for now at least.

"/> A planned sale of torture instruments in Paris which belonged to one of France's last executioners has been cancelled, for now at least.

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Torture instrument sale suspended after protests

A planned sale of torture instruments in Paris which belonged to one of France's last executioners has been cancelled, for now at least.

Torture instrument sale suspended after protests

The macabre collection of over 350 items was built up by Fernand Meyssonnier, one of France’s last executioners.

He worked between 1947 and 1961 and executed more than 200 people. Meyssonnier, who died in 2008, was particularly known for the executions he carried out in Algeria. 

The collection, planned to take place on Tuesday, was put up for sale by his only daughter and was to be handled by the Cornette de Saint Cyr auction house.

On Tuesday morning the sale was still listed on the auction house’s website as “Penalties and Punishments of Yesteryear”.

Gruesome items up for sale included thumb screws, a hand-crusher and a guillotine. 

Other torture instruments included a “pear of anguish”, also known as a “choke pear” as the pear-shaped instrument was inserted into the victim’s mouth and then slowly expanded during questioning. 

An inquisition chair, featuring sharp points on the seat, was listed with a guide price of €600 to €800 ($800 to $1050).

A number of organisations including Amnesty International protested against the sale.

They were joined last week by culture minister Frédéric Mitterrand who said the sale was more about “morbidity and barbarity” than “culture” and asked for it to be cancelled.

The auction house said it had cancelled the sale amid a “vindictive” climate.

It said it would not rule out rescheduling the sale for a later date, depending on the wishes of Meyssonnier’s daughter.

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OFFBEAT

France’s mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo

A black panther rescued from rooftops near the northern city of Lille last week has been stolen from the zoo where it was taken after capture, officials said.

France's mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo
Photo: AFP/ Sapeurs Pompiers du Nord

The feline was seized overnight from the zoo in Maubeuge near the Belgian border, the city's mayor, Arnaud Decagny, told AFP on Tuesday.

“This animal was the only target,” Decagny said, adding that “considerable efforts” were made to force locks and avoid security systems.

Zoo personnel are worried about the young panther's health, “which is rather delicate because he lacks strength,” the mayor added, saying the animal was just a few months old and weighed between 25 and 30kg.

The panther after its capture. Photo League Protectrice des Animaux de la Nord de France/AFP

The panther was going to be transferred to a centre specialised in rehabilitating wild animals that had been domesticated.

Firefighters caught the cat last Wednesday as it roamed rooftops in Armentieres after escaping through the window of a private apartment believed to have been its home.

The panther's owner is thought to have escaped through the same window, for fear of being charged with illegally harbouring a wild animal.

Police have not located the fugitive owner, who could face charges of endangering the public, which is punishable by up to a year in prison and €15,000 in fines, Decagny said.

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