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CRIME

Calls for tougher prison rules in France as repeat offender rapes and murders teenage girl

A repeat offender has confessed to raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl in the eastern French city of Nantes, sparking outrage and calls for tougher release rules.

Calls for tougher prison rules in France as repeat offender rapes and murders teenage girl
Illustration photo: AFP

Firefighters found the teenager's body 10 days ago in a burning, empty flat under renovation. The 45-year-old suspect strangled her with a cable, then started the fire to cover his tracks,  prosecutors said.

The attacker spent 18 years in prison for nine rapes, three attempted rapes and a sexual assault. He was released  in 2016.

Rachida Dati, justice minister from 2007 to 2009 under president Nicolas Sarkozy, told Europe 1 radio: “These kinds of criminals must not be left to go free.”

Dati put into place a preventive detention system in 2008, according to which an individual remains detained – even after they have finished serving their prison sentence – if they are considered dangerous.

“The Hollande government completely weakened (…) this measure and the current government has not put it back into place,” she said, referring to the 2012-2017 Socialist administration of  president Francois Hollande who succeeded Sarkozy.

“The justice system is corrupted by the far left and its culture of excuses,” deputy-head of the far-right National Rally party, Jordan Bardella, told LCI television on Monday.

“When you represent a threat for French society, as was the case, you should not be allowed to leave prison,” Bardella said.

Critics say the system poses legal and fundamental rights problems as it amounts to imprisoning people for crimes that have not been committed.

No recent element indicated that the suspect might re-offend, Nantes deputy prosecutor Yvon Ollivier told a press conference Saturday.

After leaving prison, the suspect moved, got a job and found a partner. He saw a psychotherapist once every two months, Ollivier said.

“When there is such a tragic event, it is a failure for everyone,” he said. 

The suspect was arrested on Saturday and currently being held in detention.

An investigation by France's General Inspection of Justice, which monitors the work of the judiciary, is underway to determine whether the individual had been monitored properly since prison.

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CRIME

Top French central banker in corruption probe

French prosecutors said Friday that they had opened a corruption investigation into top central banker Sylvie Goulard, who simultaneously stepped down from the Bank of France.

Top French central banker in corruption probe

The probe covers suspicions of accepting bribes, influence peddling, illegal conflicts of interest and breach of trust, the national financial prosecutor’s office said, confirming a report from daily Liberation.

Graft-fighting group Anticor triggered the probe by filing a criminal report in June, with the investigation launched in September.

In a statement, the Bank of France said Goulard – a former MEP and briefly defence minister under President Emmanuel Macron in 2017 – would be leaving her post as one of the institution’s deputy governors on December 5.

Returning to the foreign ministry?

She wished to “return to the foreign ministry” where she started her civil service career, the bank said.

A source close to Goulard told AFP that her departure had “nothing to do with the investigation”.

“Neither Sylvie Goulard nor her lawyer were informed that the investigation had been reopened,” the source said.

A previous probe in 2019 was closed the following year after no crime was found, case files seen by AFP showed.

Anticor questioned in its complaint the work Goulard performed for the California-based Berggruen Institute think-tank.

She has acknowledged accepting 10,000 euros ($10,530 at current rates) per month working as a “special adviser” to the Council for the Future of Europe, an offshoot of Berggruen, between 2013 and 2016.

Goulard’s explanation

Goulard, who was also an MEP at the time, said her work had “no relation of any kind with the business activities” of the group’s founder, German-American billionaire Nicolas Berggruen.

She said her role included “reflection, moderating groups, organizing meetings”.

Her lawyer declined to respond Friday when contacted by AFP.

The Berggruen Institute denied in 2019 that Goulard had been given a fake job, highlighting that she organised meetings in Brussels, Paris and Madrid.

Goulard has also been charged in a probe into suspected fake jobs among assistants to MEPs from the Democratic Movement, a small centrist party that supports Macron.

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