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French police handed seven years jail time for raping Canadian tourist at Paris HQ

A French court has sentenced two police officers to seven years in prison for the rape of a Canadian tourist at the Paris police headquarters.

French police handed seven years jail time for raping Canadian tourist at Paris HQ
The fabled police headquarters at 36 Quai des Orfevres in Paris. Photo: AFP
The men, Nicolas Redouane, 49, and Antoine Quirin, 40, had denied raping 39-year-old Emily Spanton, saying the sex was consensual.
 
But the court was “convinced by the victim's steadfast statements” that she was raped and “by scientific and technical” evidence, its president Stephane Duchemin said on Thursday.
   
The officers were also ordered to pay 20,000 euros ($23,000) in damages to the victim.
   
Spanton met the officers on the night of April 22, 2014, at a bar near the fabled police headquarters at 36 Quai des Orfevres, which features in Georges Simenon's Maigret detective novels.
 
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Canadian tourist recounts alleged rape at hands of French police at Paris HQEmily Spanton speaking out about the rape for the first time in 2017. Photo: AFP

She then agreed to visit their offices at “the 36”, where both men were members of the elite BRI anti-gang unit. 

The officers, aged 40 and 49, had faced up to 20 years' imprisonment for gang rape.
   
Prosecutor Philippe Courroye on Wednesday had asked for seven-year prison terms for the officers, who had retained jobs in the police force while awaiting trial. 
 
Spanton was “easy prey”, Courroye said.
   
That night, he charged, the officers “were not policemen, but usurpers unworthy of their badges, acting in the same way as those they pursue”.
   
Spanton said she was raped by up to three men but although the DNA of three people was found, only two could be identified.
 
She told the court that she had been excited to see the “36” and thought “there would be plenty of lights and people”.
   
But in the middle of the night, their fifth-floor offices were empty.
   
“I just gave up; just wanted it to be over,” she said.
 
A view of the police headquarters from across the River Seine. Photo: AFP
   
Spanton told police officers on duty as she left the building that she had been raped, but said she was treated like a drunk and told to “go home”.
 
Witnesses described her as looking happy when she entered police headquarters, but distraught when she left.
 
The trial highlighted flaws in the investigation just after the incident, including that the alleged crime scene was not cordoned off and the officers were allowed to return home without submitting to a breathalyser test.
   
Spanton's lawyer Sophie Obadia called it “a just decision”, saying the court saw that “Emily Spanton didn't lie”.
   
As for Spanton, who refused to speak to journalists, she “is very moved and relieved,” said Obadia.
 
'I am not a rapist'
 
Both defendants sobbed as they gave their final statements Thursday morning.
 
“I realise that as a police officer I should never have brought Emily Spanton to the BRI offices,”  Redouane said, taking the stand just a few metres away from his accuser.
   
“All my life I've had good relationships with women. I never, never, never assaulted, attacked or raped Emily Spanton.” 
 
Emily Spanton's lawyer. Photo: AFP
   
Quirin said it had been a “five-year nightmare” for him and his family.
 
“Maybe I was unfaithful, but I have never raped a woman. I never raped this woman.” 
   
Quirin's lawyer Anne-Laure Compoint had argued it was not possible to prove beyond doubt that there had been a lack of consent.
 
Compoint denounced the verdict as “a judicial error”, adding that on appeal “we will refight this case in an atmosphere a lot more calm, and I hope a lot more honest,” she said. 
   
The “36” is still used as police offices, but the headquarters have been moved to a new building in northwest Paris.

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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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