France alarmed after beaten body of schoolgirl, 14, found in River Seine

The French government on Wednesday expressed alarm over the "despicable" death of a 14-year-old schoolgirl whose beaten body was found in the Seine river after she endured online harassment at school.

France alarmed after beaten body of schoolgirl, 14, found in River Seine
Illustration photo: Denis Charlet/AFP

Police have detained two 15-year-olds, a boy and a girl, who attended the same school as the victim in Argenteuil on the outskirts of Paris, after her death late on Monday.

The killing has raised new concerns about juvenile crime in France after a spate of violence blamed on fighting between youth gangs.

Pupils interviewed by AFP outside the school in Argenteuil said the dispute started when photos of the victim “in underwear” circulated on the popular messaging service Snapchat.

“What happened to this young girl is utterly terrible and despicable,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told reporters after a cabinet meeting chaired by President Emmanuel Macron.

“She was taken away by harassment, taken away by a vicious circle that contributed to this drama,” he added, vowing that those responsible would be punished.

Attal said: “We know that harassment begins at school, it starts in the classroom and the playground. But what is new in recent years is that it continues online after class.”

According to prosecutors, the mother of the detained 15-year-old told police her son said he and his friend had hit a young girl and she fell into the Seine, which flows through Argenteuil after leaving Paris.

A 15-year-old boy of Ukrainian origin was severely beaten in Paris in January, with the attack caught on video and going viral.

“We cannot accept a trivialisation of violence,” said Attal, adding that there needed to be a “penal response for minors that was quicker and more effective”.

Last week, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti chaired a meeting of justice and security officials to deal with the problem of teenage gangs, especially in the Paris region.

Member comments

  1. What is Wu Zuolai’s intention to stir up trouble in the reform station, regardless of historical facts, obscenities, inciting people, hurting national feelings? It’s really worth thinking about.

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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.