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Outrage in France as police hunt hit-and-run driver who killed 9-year-old

French police have intensified a manhunt for a driver who killed a nine-year-old boy of Turkish origin and then fled the scene, in a hit-and-run accident that has sparked nationwide outrage.

Outrage in France as police hunt hit-and-run driver who killed 9-year-old
On Thursday, around 1,000 people, including many children, joined a silent march for the 9-year-old through Lorient. Photo: AFP
A cousin, aged seven, of the boy was also critically injured in the incident Sunday in the northwestern seaport town of Lorient.
   
The driver was fleeing a roadside spot check by police and did not stop after hitting the two children who were on the pavement at the time. 
   
Police immediately launched a manhunt for the 20-year-old driver and his female passenger, 21, who abandoned their vehicle several hundred metres from the scene and fled on foot. 
   
The female passenger turned herself in late Wednesday and has been detained for failing to assist a person in danger, a police source said. 
 
People gather at the place where two children were hit by a car in Lorient, western France, before taking part in a silent march. Photo: AFP    
 
More than 500 people turned out for the boy's funeral on Wednesday in a Muslim ceremony held at a local Turkish cultural association. 
   
That evening, the family flew to Turkey where the child's body was to be buried in the eastern town of Agri, near the border with Armenia.
   
Speaking on behalf of the family, Ahmet Makas, a member of the Turkish cultural association, called on the driver to “turn himself in” and “take responsibility for his actions”. 
 
'Covered in blood'
 
On Thursday, around 1,000 people, including many children, joined a silent march through Lorient. 
 
Carrying white roses, the crowd walked through the town, stopping to leave the flowers at the spot where the two boys were mown down, with many people 
reduced to tears, an AFP correspondent said.
   
Among the marchers was Virginie Rouxel, who was in the area at the time of the incident with her young daughter who goes to the same school as the boy who died. 
   
She said she saw a white vehicle zigzagging away several moments after the crash and the driver running away. 
   
“My daughter and I saw the boy covered in blood. It was really shocking. 
 
When we got home, my daughter drew a picture of the accident,” said the 35-year-old, indicating she would seek psychological counselling.
   
The seven-year-old, who remains in serious condition at a hospital in the northwestern French city of Brest. 

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CRIME

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.

Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.

Elsewhere in the capital, the defence was making its final arguments in the trial of the surviving suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.

‘Acted like vultures’ 

British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13th, 2015.

A white van with concealed number-plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019 in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.

Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since World War II, as Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.

On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.

During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation”, adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.

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