Paris pickpocket ringleader gets jail term

France handed down a seven-year jail sentence on Wednesday to the notorious Bosnian ringleader of a gang of young pickpockets, who were abused and tortured if they failed to steal at least €300 a day from unwitting targets in Paris.

Paris pickpocket ringleader gets jail term
Pickpocket ringleader Fehim Hamidovic, a Bosnian national, was given a seven-year jail term by a French court on Wednesday. File photo: Matt Baume

A French court on Wednesday sentenced the ringleader of a gang that forced young girls, mainly from Bosnia, into picking pockets on the Paris Metro to seven years in prison.

Bosnian native Fehim Hamidovic, 60, was charged with running a widespread and elaborate pickpocketing operation, with police saying that at one time the gang was responsible for up to 75 percent of thefts on the Metro, Paris's underground rail network.

The gang trained the girls to pick pockets and find potential targets  often Asian tourists known for carrying significant amounts of cash.

The girls were ordered to bring in at least €300 euros per day and if they failed were abused and tortured, including by being burned with cigarettes.

About 20 members of the gang were also on trial and sentenced to between one and five years in prison.

The gang was busted in 2010 and police estimated it stole a total of €1.3 million in Paris in 2009 alone.

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