• France's news in English
State to pay for jailing namesake of child rapist
A Frenchman was wrongly jailed after being mistaken for a child rapist with the same name. Photo: Mehdi Fedouach/AFP

State to pay for jailing namesake of child rapist

Ben McPartland · 16 Sep 2013, 16:16

Published: 16 Sep 2013 16:16 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Sadly innocent people being wrongly convicted in nothing new, but being locked up as a result of your name is thankfully rare.

But this is exactly what to Frenchman Mohamed Camara, who’s only crime was to share the same first and second names of a convicted child rapist, who was on the run.

Camara spent five months behind bars in 2001, until the state realised their blunder and released him. The case is believed to be the first of its kind in France.

According to his lawyer Frederic Berna on Monday, French authorities have finally recognised their error and reportedly made an offer of €12,000 compensation.

A figure that is insulting considering the gravity of the mistake, Berna believes.

“It’s crazy! For five months of totally unjustified detention it is a ridiculous amount,” Berna told AFP. The lawyer is claiming €180,000.

The calamity began in 2001 shortly after an international arrest warrant had been issued for Camara’s namesake, a child rapist, who had been earlier been convicted in absentia.

In July that year Camara was on a train from Paris to Brussels when he was picked up by authorities, who locked him up in Saint-Gilles prison in the Belgium capital believing they had caught their man.

Camara spent three months behind bars in Belgium before being extradited to France where another two months of his life were lost in a prison in Paris.

He was finally released on December 31, 2001, against the wish of prosecutors, on the grounds that the both the victims and the family of the real criminal had no idea who he was and did not recognise him, the lawyer Berna told AFP.

The problem for Camara though was that under French law, only people who are acquitted or have their case dismissed, can actually qualify for compensation.

Story continues below…

However thankfully for him the Attorney General in Paris saw sense and ruled that despite the fact “that it is not a dismissal or an acquittal”, Camara’s case did provide grounds for compensation.

The Attorney General acknowledged the “significant” trauma that would have been caused by being locked up however he ruled that Camara’s psychological problems, that had developed since his incarceration, had nothing to do with his time spent in prison.

The Paris Court of Appeal is due to make a ruling on the amount of compensation Camara will receive, before the end of the year.

Don't want to miss a story about France? - Then join The Local France on Facebook and Twitter.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available