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CRIME

Paedophile French surgeon jailed for 15 years for string of sex attacks

A retired French surgeon has been sentenced to 15 years in jail at the end of his closed-doors trial for the rape and sexual abuse of four children in the first part of France's biggest ever paedophilia case.

Paedophile French surgeon jailed for 15 years for string of sex attacks
Court sketch of the trial of Joel Le Scouarnec in Saintes, western France. Photo: AFP

Joel Le Scouarnec, 70, remained impassive as the verdict was read out on Thursday at the court in Saintes, western France, keeping his arms crossed without a glance at his victims, who embraced each other, overcome with emotion.

Le Scouarnec, who could have faced 20 years behind bars after being found guilty on all charges, will also be subject to a three-year supervision order at the end of his sentence. He has 10 days to appeal.

Judge Isabelle Fachaux said that despite a 2005 conviction for viewing child pornography, Le Scouarnec had continued to offend, making a lengthy jail term necessary.

“We are really satisfied… it's a fair sentence,” said Francesca Satta, the lawyer for one of the victims, who had reported Le Scouarnec in 2017.

In his final words to the court, Le Scouarnec said he did not expect leniency, according to lawyers present at the trial, which was held behind closed doors at the victims' request.

“I do not ask for forgiveness or compassion… only the right to become a better man again,” he was quoted as saying.

“He explained that he had a lot of regrets… without necessarily asking for an apology. He knows that what he did is unforgivable,” his lawyer Thibaut Kurzawa said.

The once-respected doctor and father of three sons now faces a possible second trial involving hundreds of cases of sexual assault or rape.

Le Scouarnec was charged in 2017 after testimony from one of his victims, his neighbour's six-year-old daughter.

The investigation quickly uncovered three others – two girls raped between 1989 and 1999, and a hospital patient who was only four in 1993.    

Prosecutors say searches of Le Scouarnec's home uncovered archives detailing sexual assaults or rapes of as many as 312 victims, both adults and children, starting in 1986 while he worked at hospitals in central and western France.

Police found more than 300,000 indecent images of minors.

Le Scouarnec admitted assaulting the four children but initially denied the rape charges.

During the trial, which started on Monday, Le Scouarnec admitted having raped the two girls, now aged 35 and 30. His admission “did them a lot of good”, according to their lawyer Delphine Driguez.

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CRIME

Frenchman extradited to US on hacking charges pleads not guilty

Frenchman Sebastien Raoult pleaded not guilty to cybercrimes Friday in Seattle federal court, two days after he was extradited from Morocco.

Frenchman extradited to US on hacking charges pleads not guilty

Federal Judge Michelle Peterson told the 21-year-old Raoult that he was charged with nine counts, including conspiracy, computer intrusion, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Raoult listened through an interpreter.

After Raoult’s plea of not guilty, the judge ordered him to be detained as a flight risk until a hearing April 3.

Moroccan authorities arrested Raoult at Rabat airport May 31 at the request of the US Department of Justice. Along with Raoult, two other French nationals were also arrested, Gabriel Bildstein, 23, and Abdel-Hakim El-Ahmadi, 22.

According to Raoult’s indictment, he and the other two men are alleged to have formed a hacking team, dubbed “ShinyHunters,” to steal confidential data from 60 companies to sell on the dark web where criminals routinely operate.

Some of the companies are located in the Seattle area.

According to experts, beginning in 2020, the hackers stole customer data from the Indonesian e-commerce site Tokopedia, the US clothing brand Bonobos, the US telecom AT&T and many other companies, putting the personal data for sale on the dark web.

The criminal charges carry a possible jail term of up to 27 years in prison.

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