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CRIME

Frenchman gets 25-year jail term for killing wife and burning her body

A French court Saturday sentenced Jonathann Daval to 25 years in prison for killing his wife and then burning her body, in a case that shocked the country.

Frenchman gets 25-year jail term for killing wife and burning her body
Jonathann Daval’s lawyer, Randall Schwerdorffer answers journalists at the Vesoul courthouse. Photo: AFP

The 36-year-old Frenchman was impassive as the verdict was read out. He turned to look at members of his own family who were present.

Earlier, he had said “Sorry, Sorry” in the dock, looking towards his wife's parents.

Daval finally confessed to beating his wife to death and burning her body in the woods after initially reporting her missing.

The charred remains of Alexia Daval were found hidden under branches near their town of Gray-la-Ville in eastern France in October 2017.

Daval initially said Alexia, a 29-year-old bank employee, had gone jogging and never came back.
Jean-Pierre Fouillot, Alexia's father, passed an arm around the shoulders of his wife Isabelle as the court's decision was delivered.

 

A few minutes later the mother, Isabelle Fouillot, went out to talk to reporters, as she had done throughout the trial.

“It is a very good decision, exactly what I hoped, at the height of our suffering. That will allow us to turn a page,” she said.

'Almost perfect conjugal crime'

Defence lawyer Ornella Spatafora swiftly indicated that there would be no appeal against the sentence.

Outside the courthouse dozens of people were pressed against the barriers blocking access to it.

Prosecutors had asked for a life sentence calling the 2017 murder “an almost perfect conjugal crime.”

After his wife's death, Duval had cut a distraught figure, appearing in tears at a press conference with his in-laws and leading one of several events organised countrywide in her memory.

Three months later, prosecutors said the IT worker confessed to the murder – admitting he had beaten his wife in a heated argument, knocking her face against a concrete wall, and strangling her.

He initially denied setting fire to her body, but finally admitted to that too, in June last year.

Daval changed his story several times, at one point withdrawing his confession, blaming his brother-in-law, and finally admitting to everything all over again.

 

On Monday, when asked by the judge whether he admitted to “being the only person implicated in the death” of his wife, Daval replied “yes”, appearing close to tears.

The crime deeply shocked France, and nearly 10,000 people turned out in the couple's quiet town for a silent march in her memory.

The murder highlighted the scourge of violence against women at the height of the global #MeToo campaign against sexual abuse and harassment of women.

On Monday, French authorities said 125,840 women were victims of domestic violence in 2019. Another 146 were murdered by their partner or ex-partner – 25 more than the previous year.

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CRIME

French police bust cross-Channel people-smuggling ring

French police have busted a major people-smuggling ring that has been sending migrants to Britain in dinghies, with more than a dozen boats and 700 life jackets seized in a raid, French authorities said Thursday.

French police bust cross-Channel people-smuggling ring

The ring was run by Iraqi Kurdish migrants and had a logistics hub in Lille, a northern French city about 100 kilmetres (60 miles) from the northern Channel beaches around Calais that are used for crossings.

Three Iraqi men have been charged, along with three French suspects after their arrest on Monday.

Police discovered “a real factory supplying nautical equipment” in Lille, the head of French anti-migration agency Ocriest, Xavier Delrieu, told AFP.

In what was their biggest ever seizure of equipment, they found 13 inflatable boats, 14 outboard engines, 700 life jackets, 100 pumps and 700 litres of fuel, Delrieu said.

The group is suspected of having organised 80 Channel crossings over the summer, of which 50 succeeded, with the smugglers netting around €80,000 for each one.

The arrests came due to intelligence-sharing between authorities in Belgium, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, who are all trying to crack down on migrants crossing the Channel by boat.

The original tip-off came after a border guard control discovered a group of French youths carrying inflatables from Germany into the Netherlands.

More migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK from northern France so far this year than in the whole of 2021.

So far this year, more than 30,000 people have been detected crossing the Channel to the UK, fresh government figures showed Thursday. On Wednesday alone, the authorities detected another 667 people.

Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, has faced some criticism from other Conservatives and in right-wing media outlets for not pressing for more French action against the crossings when she met President Emmanuel Macron in New York on Tuesday.

Downing Street said the issue did not come up at their talks on the margins of the UN General Assembly, which instead focused on common ground including Ukraine and energy security.

The crossings are among a host of issues that have badly strained Franco-British relations in recent years.

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