France’s child abductor ‘abused a minor before’

The man arrested for kidnapping four-year-old Rifki over the weekend had previously been held by police in France for molesting a minor, it was reported on Tuesday.

France's child abductor 'abused a minor before'
The boy was rescued by police on a TGV train near Bordeaux. Photo: AFP
The case of missing Rifki has been front page news in France since Sunday – and now that he has been returned “safe and sound” to his family, the frightening details of his kidnapping and his captor have begun to emerge.
The boy, who is from the east African island of Comoros, disappeared on Saturday afternoon, prompting police to issue a “Plan Alerte Enlevement”, meaning his name and picture were instantly spread across France's TV, radio, and public transport systems. 
A passenger on a high-speed TGV train heading to Bordeaux recognized the boy on Sunday afternoon. Police detained the man who was travelling with Rifki, and the boy was returned to his family in western France's Rennes, some 450 kilometres away.
On Tuesday, French channel Europe 1 revealed that his abductor had been arrested in June on suspicion of molesting a 15-year-old.
The man, referred to by the channel as 25-year-old Ahmed, will face a criminal court in January for the offence.
French cops find missing boy 450km from home

(The boy went missing from the Place de la Marie square in Rennes. Photo: AFP)
His lawyer told Europe 1 that the man spoke only broken French, and had been in France for several months. The 25-year-old is a native of Mayotte, an island region of France in the Indian Ocean, where he was reportedly mistreated himself as a child and grew up in a care home.
Over the weekend, he is understood to have taken the boy from a busy square in Rennes, before spending a night with him on the streets of Paris, then taking the TGV train in the direction of Bordeaux on Sunday. 
He risks 30 years in prison.  
Rifki, meanwhile, has told investigators and a psychologist that he was not subjected to any violence while in the company of his captor, who he referred to as Uncle Ahmed. 
The full scale abduction alert that was launched to find Rifki on Sunday is rarely used in France, but it is highly effective. It has been launched 16 times since it was introduced in 2006 – each time when the child's life is deemed to be in danger – with all missing parties found safe afterwards. 


Kidnapped Riviera millionaire left tied up in car boot in Nice

The millionaire Riviera business woman who was kidnapped in broad daylight in Nice two days ago has been found alive after being abandoned by her kidnappers.

Kidnapped Riviera millionaire left tied up in car boot in Nice
Photo: AFP

Jacqueline Veyrac, the 76-year-old millionaire head of the Grand Hotel in Cannes, was kidnapped in Nice in front of shocked onlookers in the middle of the day on Monday.

But on Wednesday, two days after disappearing, French media reported that Veyrac had been found alive in Nice.

According to reports she was found after being bound then abandoned in the boot of a vehicle. The business woman managed to get out of her own accord and seek help from neighbours. 

She had suffered what were described as light injuries. Two men were also reportedly arrested following her appearance.

Police had been desperately hunting for the woman, who on Monday had been forced into a car by kidnappers while several passers-by looked on.

The freesheet French daily 20 Minutes quoted the family's lawyer Sophie Jonquet as saying the kidnappers contacted one of Veyrac's sons on Monday afternoon.

“The family is very upset and won't make any statements at this stage. Too much has already been said and I don't want to put my client in danger,” she told the paper.

Veyrac, whose husband died five years ago, co-owns the five-star Grand Hotel in nearby Cannes with one of her sons and the pair run a gourmet restaurant in Nice called La Reserve.

She was the victim of a kidnapping attempt three years ago whose motive was never discovered.