Initially a Paris children's court received ID papers suggesting the boy was 14 years old. He was convicted of violent theft and was fined, avoiding a two-month jail term because of his young age.
However, he was arrested a second time this summer, daily Le Parisien reports. This time the boy produced different ID documents which suggested he was 15. As a result, the authorities were free to send him to prison to serve his first jail sentence.
On July 1st the Romanian boy was imprisoned in Fleury-Merogis Prison, the largest jail in Europe.
However, the French branch of the International Observatory of Prisons (IOP) opposed the sentencing and appealed to the Citizens Rights watchdog, which ordered a medical examination of the boy to determine his age.
Doctors examined the boy and estimated he was 13 to 14 years old. Ultimately an investigation conducted jointly by French and Romanian authorities concluded beyond doubt that the boy was born in 2000 and was in fact a mere 12 years old.
"If they are not sure about the age of a suspect, they should always pick the lowest age," said François Bès, an IOP official in an interview with Le Parisien.
The Romanian boy spent two weeks in prison before he was released.