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CRIME

London nanny murder suspect accuses partner of drowning victim

A man on trial over the alleged murder of a French au-pair in London accused his partner on Friday of killing the woman by drowning her in their bathtub, shouting at her "you did it!"

London nanny murder suspect accuses partner of drowning victim
Lawyer Frank Berton (L), representing the family of murdered French au-pair Sophie Lionnet, speaks to the media outside the Old Bailey, London's Central Criminal Court, on March 20th. Photo: AFP

The 40-year-old Frenchman, Ouissem Medouni, turned to co-defendant Sabrina Kouider and said “you put her head under the water”, before being called to order by the judge at London's Old Bailey court.

“She's a very strong woman, she can do that,” he told jurors.

Medouni claims that nanny Sophie Lionnet died on the night of September 18th, 2017, after the couple had conducted a partially-filmed interview with her in their south-west London home.

Kouider, 35, was convinced that the victim had conspired against her with one of Kouider's former boyfriends — Mark Walton, a former member of Irish band Boyzone.

Kouider alleged that Walton had recruited Lionnet to spy on her in exchange for money and the promise of “fame”.

The fire brigade found her charred remains in the couple's garden on September 20th after neighbours called, concerned by the thick smoke and smell.

Medouni admitted having “put a little pressure” on Lionnet by questioning her but denied the accusations of Kouider's lawyer that he killed her.

“I'm not a murderer. I didn't hurt Sophie,” he said.

Both defendants pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, however, he does admit to burning the body.

Lionnet's cause of death is unknown due to the attempt to dispose of her body, although a scientist found she suffered bruising, and fractures to her sternum and ribs between 36 hours and three days before dying.

Prosecutors argue the pair tortured the au-pair and subjected her to interrogations, which have been broadcast in court.

The trial started on March 19th and is due to continue until May 11th. 

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POLICE

France vows to tackle motorbike ‘rodeos’ after children injured

The French government has pledged a new crackdown against illicit motorbike cruising by youths in suburbs across the country, after two children were seriously injured by a rider near Paris.

France vows to tackle motorbike 'rodeos' after children injured

The rowdy late-night races and stunts known as “rodeos” have become increasingly popular in particular in low-income neighbourhoods, leading to complaints about traffic and noise from local officials and many residents.

On Friday evening, a 10-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy were hit by a rider while playing tag outside their home in Pontoise, northwest of the capital.

French daily Le Figaro reported on Monday that the girl suffered a blow to the head and remained in serious condition in hospital, while the boy had a broken leg.

The accident came after a 19-year-old man was killed in June after being hit by a bike rider in the western city of Rennes.

“I have asked the police to step up their interventions this month,” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said in the southern city of Marseille.

Nonetheless the rodeos are often tolerated or defended as a gritty urban subculture that provides an outlet for disaffected youths, with an upcoming film, “Rodeo”, that appears to glorify the gatherings and  generated a strong buzz at the Cannes film festival last May.

Police have carried out 8,000 operations to break up rodeos in the past two months, leading to 1,200 arrests and the seizure of around 700 motorbikes and other vehicles including all-terrain “quads”.

In 2018, parliament passed a law increasing penalties for the riders to up to five years in prison.

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