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CRIME

Frenchwoman jailed for torturing boyfriend

A Frenchwoman who kept her boyfriend as a "domestic slave", forcing him to ingest sponges and window cleaner, was Thursday sentenced to three years in prison.

Frenchwoman jailed for torturing boyfriend
A Frenchwoman has been jailed for torturing her boyfriend. Photo: AFP

Zakia Medkour, 43, was also ordered to pay €200,000 ($217,000) in damages to her ex-boyfriend Maxime Gaget, 37, for crimes which the prosecution said went “beyond violence” with a “female torturer and a male victim”.

The pair met in 2007 on the Internet and seven months later moved into a Parisian studio where Medkour lived with her two children.

The court heard how Medkour stole Gaget's identity papers and credit cards, forced him to sleep on the floor near the front door and prevented him from accessing the toilet.

For over a year he suffered beatings, insults, she burned him with cigarettes or a white-hot knife, threw salt into his eyes and blocked his contact with the outside world.

Medkour told him that if he rebelled, she would accuse him of paedophilia.

“In the beginning there were feelings and then fear and then shame,” Gaget told the court.

“It is hard for a man to admit he is being beaten by a woman. I also stayed to protect the children.”

Gaget in February published a book about his experiences called “My Girlfriend. My Torturer” which has helped lift the taboo about domestic abuse against men in France.

In the book, Gaget said he wanted to publicise the fact “that such atrocities exist, and are unfortunately not isolated issues.”

An estimated 7,000 men file complaints about domestic abuse each year in France, according to the SOS Hommes Battus (Abused Men) association.

Many more are believed to be affected but too ashamed to come forward.

During the trial Medkour tearfully apologised to her former boyfriend, saying she was “not heartless”.

Her lawyers ascribed her behaviour to her troubled past: her father committed suicide when she was a child, she grew up in children's homes and became an alcoholic.

They also said she suffered from a bi-polar mental disorder.

As part of her sentence Medkour has to undergo psychiatric treatment and rehabilitation for her alcoholism.

Medkour's prison sentence, half of which is suspended, is considered “convertible” under French law, which means she could eventually escape jail time and perform community service, wear an electronic bracelet or be allowed to work part time.

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CRIME

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.

Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.

Elsewhere in the capital, the defence was making its final arguments in the trial of the surviving suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.

‘Acted like vultures’ 

British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13th, 2015.

A white van with concealed number-plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019 in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.

Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since World War II, as Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.

On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.

During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation”, adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.

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