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Prosecutors appeal as gang rapists get off lightly

French prosecutors said Friday they will appeal the acquittals and light sentences handed down to 14 men accused of repeatedly gang-raping two teenage girls in a run-down Paris suburb.

The court decision on Wednesday sparked widespread outrage in France, with one feminist group saying it sent a "catastrophic message" that rape is permissible.

Ten men were acquitted in the case while four defendants were handed down sentences ranging from one year in prison to three years suspended for raping one victim, identified only as Nina, now aged 29.

Prosecutors had called for eight of the accused to be given sentences of between five and seven years. They made no sentencing recommendations for the other six accused.

"The verdict is too far from the prosecution requests, both on the sentences given and certain acquittals. It does not take into account how the crimes were committed," said Nathalie Becache, chief prosecutor for the Paris suburb of Creteil.

She said the verdict also did not take into account the "particularly serious physical and mental damage" done to the two victims.

The two victims said they had seen a "judicial disaster" after the verdict in the attacks, committed in the poverty-stricken housing schemes of Fontenay-sous-Bois between 1999 and 2001.

They said they were repeatedly raped in sordid places — in basement cellars, stairwells and car parks. One of the victims said she was a virgin when she was first attacked one night when she was returning from the cinema.

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Ghosn trial may be delayed until next year: Japanese media

Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn's trial, which was expected to begin in September, will be delayed, local media said Saturday, hinting that it may not start this year.

Ghosn trial may be delayed until next year: Japanese media
Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn leaving a detention centre on Thursday. Photo: Behrouz Mehri / AFP
The 65-year-old tycoon, currently on bail, is preparing for his trial on four charges of financial misconduct ranging from concealing part of his salary from shareholders to syphoning off Nissan funds for his personal use.
   
The Tokyo District Court had proposed to start his trial in September during its pre-trial meetings with his defence lawyers and prosecutors, news reports said, quoting unnamed sources.
   
But the court told the lawyers and prosecutors on Friday that it had retracted the plan without proposing a new time frame, Kyodo News said, adding that the move could mean the trial will not start this year.
   
The court also decided not to separate the trial for Ghosn, his close aide Greg Kelly and Nissan — all indicted on the charge of violating the financial instruments law by underreporting Ghosn's compensation, according to Kyodo.
   
His lawyers have so far demanded he be tried separately from Nissan and have voiced fears he will not receive a fair trial.
   
The Sankei Shimbun also said prosecutors gave up filing an appeal to the Supreme Court against his bail, a move to erasing a chance of his return to jail unless he is arrested again on fresh charges. Immediate confirmation of the news reports was not available.
   
On Thursday, Ghosn exited his Tokyo detention centre after accepting bail of $4.5 million under strict conditions, including restrictions on seeing his wife.
   
His case has captivated Japan and the business community with its multiple twists and turns, as well as shone a spotlight on the Japanese justice system which critics say is overly harsh.
   
Ghosn denies all the charges, with a spokesperson for the executive saying on Monday he would “vigorously defend himself against these baseless accusations and fully expects to be vindicated”.
   
In a statement hours after his release, Ghosn said: “No person should ever be indefinitely held in solitary confinement for the purpose of being forced into making a confession.”
   
The dramatic case has thrown international attention onto the Japanese justice system, derided by critics as “hostage justice” as it allows prolonged detention and relies heavily on suspects' confessions.
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