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CRIME

France left shocked after husband confesses to brutal killing of wife

A French IT worker on Tuesday admitted to killing his wife in a case that has gripped the country since her charred corpse was found in a wood in October.

France left shocked after husband confesses to brutal killing of wife
All photos: AFP

The body of Alexia Daval, a 29-year-old bank employee, was found hidden under tree branches near their town of Gray-la-Ville in eastern France.

Her husband Jonathann Daval, 34, had previously insisted that Alexia had gone jogging on October 28 and never come back.

In the days after her death he cut a distraught figure, appearing in tears at a press conference with her parents and leading one of the running outings organised across the country in her memory.

But his lawyers told reporters that Daval had finally admitted he killed his wife, though “he says it was an accident, that he did not want to do it, and that he regrets it”.

“He strangled her,” lawyer Randall Schwerdorffer told the press, adding that his client's motivation “was not criminal”.

“There were some very strong tensions in their relationship as a couple,” he added.

“Alexia had an overwhelming personality, so he felt diminished, stifled. At one point too many words were said, a fit of anger proved too much, and he couldn't control himself.”

That statement from the lawyer prompted anger among many in France not east the The minister for gender equality Marlene Schiappa who responded by saying we must “stop making excuses for domestic violence”.

“This isn't an argument, it's not a personal drama; this is a murder,” Schiappa told French media.

“I think that women who are living in domestic violence situations right now could hear this, and might say to themselves: ‘Maybe I deserve to be hit’, or there might be men who hear it and say, ‘Me too, my wife is overwhelming me, I’m going to hit her’.”

“I think we must stop minimising domestic violence, and stop finding excuses. There is nothing that can justify hitting your wife or partner.,” she said.

Later ion Tuesday local prosecutor Edwige Roux-Morizot announced that Daval had been charged with his wife's murder.

Schwerdorffer said Daval maintains that he acted alone — but he added that his client insists he did not set fire to his wife's body.

The murder case shocked the couple's peaceful town, with nearly 10,000 people turning out for a silent march in her memory.

'Marital problems'

Daval, initially questioned as a witness, had told police an argument with his wife turned physical on the day before her disappearance, which he said explained the scratches and bite marks on her hands.

Several sources told AFP the couple were experiencing marital problems.

Police arrested Daval on Monday and searched his home after interviewing more than 200 people over the past three months.

Police sources said a neighbour had reported hearing a car leaving the couple's home on the night before Alexia was reported missing — a fact backed up by a tracking device on his work car.

Traces of tyres matching those of his car were also discovered close to where Alexia's body was found, Schwerdorffer said.

A source close to the inquiry also said the body was covered in a sheet that was thought to come from the couple's home.

CRIME

How France plans to prevents youngsters accessing online pornography

France is set to announce new measures this week to prevent youngsters from accessing porn websites, in the latest round of a years-long struggle to protect children from explicit material.

How France plans to prevents youngsters accessing online pornography

“I plan to put an end to this scandal,” Digital Affairs Minister Jean-Noel Barrot told the Parisien newspaper on Monday.

France’s data protection and media regulators Cnil and Arcom are set to announce their latest proposals to rein in porn websites which are in theory subject to a 2020 law requiring age verification.

Previous attempts have been held up by privacy and technical concerns, as well as court action by the websites.

To its frustration last September, a Paris court ordered Arcom to enter into mediation with several porn websites including market leader Pornhub, holding up efforts to block them.

READ MORE: France hits Google and Facebook with huge fines over ‘cookies’

Under the new proposal, people wanting to access explicit material will need to download a phone application that provides them with a digital certificate and code, the Parisien reported.

The code will be needed to access a porn website under a system “which will work a bit like the checks from your bank when you buy something online,” Barrot told the newspaper.

“2023 will mark the end of our children accessing pornographic sites,” he added.

President Emmanuel Macron, who is married to former school teacher Brigitte Macron, promised to make protecting children from porn a priority during his bid for re-election last year.

In November, he launched the Children Online Protection Laboratory, an initiative that aims to bring together industry giants and researchers to look for ways to shield minors online.

In September last year, a report entitled “Hell Behind the Scenes” by French senators concluded that there was “massive, ordinary and toxic” viewing of porn by children.

The report found that two thirds of children aged 15 or less had seen pornographic content.

The French production industry has been roiled by a series of sexual assault cases in recent years in which women have come forward to allege rape, mistreatment and manipulation by directors and fellow actors.

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