Frenchwoman on trial for killing and dismembering her workplace rival

A French woman went on trial on Monday charged with killing a work rival, chopping up the corpse and dumping the body parts in a canal.

Frenchwoman on trial for killing and dismembering her workplace rival
The body parts were dumped in the Canal du Midi, a popular tourist destination. Photo: AFP

Sophie Masala, a 55-year-old mother of two, appeared in the dock in Toulouse in a black suit and light-coloured blouse, occasionally shaking her head in disagreement as the indictment was read.

She admits to having killed Maryline Planche, 52, but insists it was not intentional.

Planche was killed at her apartment in central Toulouse in the south of France in May 2016, her head smashed with a bottle.

A few days later, a metal hacksaw was used to cut up her body.

From the apartment to the Canal du Midi, some 500 metres away, the body parts were transported in a supermarket trolley, and her head in a backpack.

The parts were found later, washed up along the banks of the canal.

A few days after the murder, Masala was arrested in her hometown of Montpellier about 250 kilometres away.

“This is an unusual trial… We hope that we will be able to understand by the end of it,” said a lawyer for Planche's family, Georges Catala.

The two women had worked at an association for handicapped people, where their dislike for each other was well known.

Judgment is expected on Friday, and Masala risks life imprisonment if convicted.

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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.