Appeal launched over sex slave conviction

The appeal trial began Tuesday of four people convicted of forcing a young French woman into a life of slavery and sexual violence in a trailer park near Paris.

The trial in Bobigny near Paris centres on Sabrina, a woman now aged 32, who was brought to a Paris hospital in March 2006 suffering from malnutrition and signs of torture.

Sabrina told police she had been tortured and held as a slave in a trailer park off the highway in Claye-Souilly near Paris.

She had lost nearly all of her teeth, her ears had been burned with a clothes iron, her body was scarred from cigarette burns and she weighed only 34 kilogrammes (75 pounds).

In December 2010 her parents, Daniel and Denise, were convicted of human trafficking for having allowed Sabrina to be sexually abused, including in exchange for a reduction on the price of a used car.

Her father was sentenced to 20 years in prison and her mother to eight years. The parents' last names have been withheld to prevent identification of Sabrina.

Another couple, Franck Franoux and his wife Florence Carrasco, were both sentenced to 30 years on charges of rape, kidnapping, torture and forced slavery in the case.

A verdict in the appeal is due on September 14.

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Paris plans first statue of black woman for anti-slavery heroine

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said Saturday the French capital plans its first statue of a black woman to remember a heroine who fought against slavery on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe in the early 19th century.

Paris plans first statue of black woman for anti-slavery heroine
Photo: AFP/Wikipedia

The woman, Solitude, was a key figure in the resistance movement against slavery in Guadeloupe and was executed for her role aged just 30.

Hidalgo said the new statue was planned as she opened a park in Paris named after Solitude, who she said “with her courage and commitment to justice and dignity opened the way towards a definitive abolition of slavery in France”.

“Paris is honouring Solitude, a Guadeloupean figure in the resistance against slavery by dedicating a park to her,” added Hidalgo on Twitter.

“Soon, a statue of this heroine — the very first of a black woman in Paris — will be erected there (in the park). A strong symbol to never forget her fight,” she added.

Slavery was abolished in France in 1794 but under orders from Napoleon Bonaparte troops were sent to Guadeloupe in 1802 to restore the practice there.

The move sparked an insurgency, with many black women who were former slaves rising up. Solitude was arrested and hanged on November 29, 1802, an execution that was held back so she could give birth just one day before.

She was the daughter of a black slave and a white French sailor, who according to some accounts had raped her mother.

“Solitude is the first black woman honoured for herself and for her action in a Paris public space,” Jacques Martial, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of overseas territories issues, told AFP.

“A defender of the values of the Republic, a committed woman, she fought for the freedom of all, against the reestablishment of slavery in Guadeloupe. She paid for that fight with her life”, he added.

The debate on France's colonial past has been revived by protests against racism and police brutality in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement that rocked the United States in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.

Anti-racism activists in July tore down a statue of Napoleon's empress Josephine in the overseas French territory of Martinique.

There have also been calls for the removal of the statue outside France's National Assembly in Paris of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the man behind the “Code Noir” decree that defined the conditions of slavery in the French colonies.

But President Emmanuel Macron warned in June that France would not take down statues or names of controversial figures, saying it would “lucidly look at our history and our memory together.”