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CRIME

Lawyer’s slit throat rocks crime-infested Marseille

A murder investigation is under way after a lawyer was found with her throat slit in the heart of the crime-ridden city of Marseille.

Lawyer's slit throat rocks crime-infested Marseille
City of Marseille: a troubling wave of killings (Photo: phgaillard)

A colleague found Raymonde Talbot's body in her office on the Maport city's main business street on Friday, police said.

The third-floor office was locked and no murder weapon was found, they said.

"It's blood-chilling," a fellow lawyer said.

"We don't know the exact circumstances but the whole profession is concerned."

Marseille deputy mayor Caroline Pozmentier said the authorities were "revolted by this odious act which has rocked not only the legal profession but the entire city."

While little is known about the circumstances surrounding this murder, there has been growing concern in government circles at a wave of killings in Marseille.

So far this year, 18 people have been killed there in crimes linked to inter-gang rivalry, many of them gunned down in killings linked to the drugs trade.

On September 6th, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced beefed-up security with 250 extra police to tackle deadly gang violence in Marseille.

But a number of police officers have been also suspended as part of a corruption investigation in the city.

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CRIME

French court orders partial release for convicted Corsican nationalist

A French court on Tuesday ordered the partial release of a Corsican nationalist who has served 24 years in jail for the 1998 murder of a top French official.

French court orders partial release for convicted Corsican nationalist

Under the ruling, Pierre Alessandri will be allowed out of jail to work for a landscaping company in the daytime and will be granted a full conditional release in a year if he behaves well.

The relaxation of Alessandri’s conditions of detention came amid tensions between the Mediterranean island’s pro-autonomy leaders and the French state, after a fellow Corsican detained in the same case was killed in a French prison in March.

Alessandri and a third Corsican detainee were transferred from mainland France to a jail in Corsica in April after the murder of Yvan Colonna.

The Paris appeals court granted Alessandri “a probationary partial release” of 12 months from February 13, the prosecutor-general Remy Heitz said.

If he behaves well, he would then be granted “conditional release” for another ten years, he said.

Alessandri’s lawyer Eric Barbolosi hailed the ruling as a “great relief”.

“For the first time in a court of appeals, the magistrates made a decision based on the criteria necessary for a conditional release, not the particular nature of the case,” he said.

Alessandri had served enough time to be eligible for such a release by 2017, and had already petitioned to be freed three times.

But national anti-terror prosecutors objected, and an appeals court barred his release.

The country’s highest court then quashed one of these decisions, ordering the Paris appeals court to re-examine it.

Colonna, a former goat herder, was announced dead on March 21 after an Islamist extremist who accused him of blasphemy strangled and suffocated him in a prison in the southern town of Arles in mainland France.

He was detained in 2003 after four years on the run, and sentenced in 2007, and then again in 2011, to life in jail over the killing in 1998 of the French government prefect of Corsica, Claude Erignac.

The killing was the most shocking of a series of attacks by pro-independence militant group FLNC.

Alessandri and another nationalist, Alain Ferrandi, had already been sentenced to life in jail in 2003 over the murder.

Ferrandi, who was transferred to the same Corsican jail, has also requested to be released on parole, and a decision is due on February 23rd.

Colonna’s murder sparked violent protests in Corsica.

It galvanised the nationalist movement and led President Emmanuel Macron’s government to offer talks about giving greater political autonomy to the territory.

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