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CRIME

Paris airport bus: Thief hides inside suitcase to pilfer passengers’ possessions

Two thieves were convicted and jailed this week after they used a fairly cunning modus operandi to steal from passengers bound for Paris Beauvais airport.

Paris airport bus: Thief hides inside suitcase to pilfer passengers' possessions
AFP

The mystery of passengers’ luggage disappearing on the way to Paris Beauvais airport appears to have been solved after the conviction of two thieves this week.

One of the men would hide in a suitcase whilst his accomplice would place him in the luggage compartment of the bus that links Porte Maillot to Paris Beauvais airport, a hub for low-cost airlines to the north of Paris.

While he was alone in the luggage compartment he would free himself from his own suitcase – using a fairly basic technique of attaching a lace to the zip on the inside of the bag – before rifling through those of other passengers, pilfering whatever he could.

He would then slink back into his hiding place and his accomplice, posing as a normal passenger would take him off the bus at the airport.

The pair would then carry out the scam all over again on the next journey.

A source at France’s border police (PAF) told AFP that passengers “had noticed their possessions had been stolen during the journey”.

On Friday October 13th one of the bus drivers at Porte Maillot, in the west of Paris, noticed a “passenger” loading an enormous brown suitcase onto the bus and realized there was movement inside the luggage.

The driver, who was aware of the spate of thefts on the buses discretely alerted Beauvais airport security who then brought in the police.

On arrival at Beauvais the police followed the thief who was wheeling the large brown suitcase and carrying a rucksack on his back.

When police finally stopped him, they found the rucksack was full of laptops, tablets, telephones, money and other valuables and the brown suitcase contained a “curled-up individual”.

The pair, both aged in their 40s were known to police for a history of theft. The accomplice was slapped with a 12-month sentence and the man who hid in the case was given eight months.

A magistrate told AFP that although the pair’s modus operandi was not common, it wasn’t the first time they had come across it.

So passengers travelling to Paris airports might be wise to put a padlock on their bags in future.

CRIME

French court orders partial release for convicted Corsican nationalist

A French court on Tuesday ordered the partial release of a Corsican nationalist who has served 24 years in jail for the 1998 murder of a top French official.

French court orders partial release for convicted Corsican nationalist

Under the ruling, Pierre Alessandri will be allowed out of jail to work for a landscaping company in the daytime and will be granted a full conditional release in a year if he behaves well.

The relaxation of Alessandri’s conditions of detention came amid tensions between the Mediterranean island’s pro-autonomy leaders and the French state, after a fellow Corsican detained in the same case was killed in a French prison in March.

Alessandri and a third Corsican detainee were transferred from mainland France to a jail in Corsica in April after the murder of Yvan Colonna.

The Paris appeals court granted Alessandri “a probationary partial release” of 12 months from February 13, the prosecutor-general Remy Heitz said.

If he behaves well, he would then be granted “conditional release” for another ten years, he said.

Alessandri’s lawyer Eric Barbolosi hailed the ruling as a “great relief”.

“For the first time in a court of appeals, the magistrates made a decision based on the criteria necessary for a conditional release, not the particular nature of the case,” he said.

Alessandri had served enough time to be eligible for such a release by 2017, and had already petitioned to be freed three times.

But national anti-terror prosecutors objected, and an appeals court barred his release.

The country’s highest court then quashed one of these decisions, ordering the Paris appeals court to re-examine it.

Colonna, a former goat herder, was announced dead on March 21 after an Islamist extremist who accused him of blasphemy strangled and suffocated him in a prison in the southern town of Arles in mainland France.

He was detained in 2003 after four years on the run, and sentenced in 2007, and then again in 2011, to life in jail over the killing in 1998 of the French government prefect of Corsica, Claude Erignac.

The killing was the most shocking of a series of attacks by pro-independence militant group FLNC.

Alessandri and another nationalist, Alain Ferrandi, had already been sentenced to life in jail in 2003 over the murder.

Ferrandi, who was transferred to the same Corsican jail, has also requested to be released on parole, and a decision is due on February 23rd.

Colonna’s murder sparked violent protests in Corsica.

It galvanised the nationalist movement and led President Emmanuel Macron’s government to offer talks about giving greater political autonomy to the territory.

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