Frenchman jailed in Morocco for paedophilia

A court in Casablanca has sentenced a 60-year-old French citizen to 12 years in prison for paedophilia, Moroccan police said on Saturday, confirming a verdict announced earlier in the week.

Police originally arrested the Frenchman on charges of paedophilia, "setting up a criminal organisation" and "illegal residency" in the kingdom.

On Tuesday, a court handed the accused a 12-year jail term, police sources said, confirming reports in the Arabic-language dailies Akhbar al-Yaoum and Al-Massae.

He also received a fine of 60,000 dirhams ($7,000) to be paid to the family of the girl whose complaint lead to his arrest.

Akhbar al-Yaoum reported that he had confessed to the charges, but police sources said that the accused had appealed the verdict.

The police sources added that the French national had come to live in Morocco four years ago, fleeing the possibility of prosecution for paedophilia at home.

After he arrived in Morocco, he started relationships with two young women he employed as domestic workers, before asking them to help him meet 10-year-old girls.

The two young women were also jailed for eight months for "complicity in forming a criminal organisation".

Thousands of people marched in Casablanca on May 5th to protest against child sexual abuse after a harrowing assault last month in the northwestern Sidi Kacem region nearly killed a young girl.

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Frenchman fined for pillaging ancient sites

A 60-year French champagne producer received a six-month suspended sentence and a €200,000 ($270,000) fine on Friday for stealing ancient objects from archaeological digs and selling them on.

Frenchman fined for pillaging ancient sites
Roman coins. File photo: AFP

French police stopped the man and his wife for a routine traffic check two years ago and found 112 Roman coins in the car.

His wife was fined €3,500 for complicity.

Between 2009 and 2012, the man made dozens of trips to archaeological digs in the region just east of Paris.

During his trial, he said he thought he was acting within the law.

"I looked around on the ground. The objects were there. All I had to do was pick them up," he said.

When police searched his house, they found a veritable museum of objects, ranging from ancient coins and pottery pieces to rings and necklaces.

The court convicted the man, who has not been named, of conducting archaeological digs without permission, selling the proceeds, and illegal possession of archaeological objects.

His ill-gotten gains were ordered returned to the state.

His lawyer, Denis Tailly-Eschenlohr, said the fine was "extremely heavy and totally disproportionate", adding that his client would lodge an appeal.