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CRIME

Killers of French and Italian men sentenced

A Madagascar court handed four men the maximum sentence on Friday of hard labour for life over the mob lynching in 2013 of two Europeans and a local man, who were beaten and then burned on a beach.

Killers of French and Italian men sentenced
One of the accused hiding his face is rushed out by a marshall in Antananarivo, during the trial of 37 people accused of murder of two Europeans. Photo: Rijaso/AFP

A Madagascar court handed four men the maximum sentence Friday of hard labour for life over the mob lynching in 2013 of two Europeans and a local man, who were beaten and then burned on a beach.

The sentencing came as the court tried 37 people over the October 2013 murders, which were committed by a mob acting on false rumours of foreign involvement in the death of an eight-year old local boy and a paedophilia connection.

Among them, 25 suspects were given the benefit of the doubt and released, while another was formally acquitted.

One was sentenced to seven years of hard labour, while the rest were handed prison sentences ranging from three months to six years.

On the morning of October 3, 2013, French tourist Sebastien Judalet and Franco-Italian resident Roberto Gianfalla were attacked and brutally killed by a mob.

Hours later, the uncle of the eight-year-old boy whose death sparked the attack on Nosy Be — the idyllic Indian Ocean island off Madagascar — was also murdered.

Friday's sentencing came a day after Attorney general Jean de Dieudonne Andrianaivoson had asked for the maximum sentence for 12 of those on trial for murder and kidnapping.

He also asked the court for leniency for the other 25 suspects, including two policemen on trial for failing to assist people in danger.

One of the two officers was among those released Friday; the other has been sentenced to six months.

Most of the defendants had pleaded not guilty during the trial.

After a photograph of the brutal incident was shown in court, one of the four men sentenced to hard labour for life admitted he was “among those burning the vazahas,” using the Malagasy word for Westerners.

Fellow defendant Marcellin Tomboravo, who was sentenced to seven years of hard labour, admitted he transported one of the two murdered Europeans in his cart. His lawyer had appealed for his client's acquittal, arguing he had no choice but to obey the violent crowd.

Both the defence and prosecution teams had meanwhile said local officials should have also been probed.

Several videos of the tragedy were shown during the trial. One showed Judalet, 38, lying on the beach. A man strikes his head using a wooden stick, and with the last blow, his executioner says: “Goodbye, world.”

Gianfalla, a Franco-Italian who lived in Madagascar, was a 50-year-old cook.

Judalet, who worked as a bus driver and had been in Madagascar several times on holiday, has been cleared of all suspicions of paedophilia by French police.

There has been no evidence to date that any of the victims of the mob lynching either killed or abused the child.

The circumstances of the boy's killing have never been clarified, nor has anyone been tried for his death.

The issue of paedophilia is particularly sensitive in Madagascar where extreme poverty has led to a spike in child prostitution.

The UN in 2013 denounced what it described as the normalisation of child prostitution in Madagascar.

CRIME

French police shoot dead knife-wielding man at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport

French Border police at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris shot - and killed - man who was wielding a knife in the public area of the airport on Wednesday.

French police shoot dead knife-wielding man at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport

Border police reportedly shot a man with aggressive behaviour who brandished a knife in the public area of the Charles de Gaulle airport outside of Paris, on Wednesday morning, police and airport sources told AFP.

“This morning officers neutralised a threatening individual in possession of a knife at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport,” the Paris police department said on its Twitter account.

A source close to the investigation told BFMTV that the man – who was likely homeless – went towards the officers, despite being asked several times to put the knife down. In response, police shot the man in the abdomen, and the individual later died.

The incident took place in the busy, public area of terminal 2F around 8:20 am, when “a homeless man started bothering security agents and border police were called in to remove him”.

Initially the man left while yelling curses but he soon returned and brought out a knife, when one of the officers fired his weapon.

An AFP photographer who witnessed the scene said “a large person of colour brandished something that looked like a knife at the police”.

“He was ordered to stop but kept advancing toward them, and an officer fired a single shot.”

The man was quickly put on a stretcher and evacuated, the photographer said. 

Security forces have been on high alert for terrorist attacks since a wave of jihadist killings that have killed more than 250 people since 2015, often by so-called “lone wolves” who often target police.

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