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CRIME

Defendants sorry over transgender prostitute’s killing as trial ends

Key defendants charged in the murder of a transgender prostitute expressed remorse Saturday at the end of a trial that has highlighted rising violence against sex workers in France.

Defendants sorry over transgender prostitute's killing as trial ends
Protestors hold signs demanding justice for trans prostitute Vanessa Campos. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

Vanesa Campos, a 36-year-old from Peru, was fatally shot in the chest in August 2018 in the Bois de Boulogne, a vast wooded park west of Paris that has long been a prostitution zone once night falls.

Police quickly focused on a group of around a dozen men of Egyptian origin, who had staged what prosecutors called a “punitive expedition” against Campos and others who had denounced repeated robberies and assaults against prostitutes and their clients by armed gangs.

Mahmoud Kadri, 24, and Karim Ibrahim, 29, who have accused each other of killing Campos, expressed sorrow on Saturday at the end of a trial that began January 11.

“I apologise for everything that happened. I’m so sorry,” the Arabic-speaking Kadri said through an interpreter before bursting into tears.

“I am so sorry for all that. I am sorry,” Ibrahim told the court in French before deliberations began.

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The prosecution recommended Thursday that Kadri be sentenced to 20 years in jail. He denies claims from his fellow accused that he shot and killed Campos on the night of August 16-17, 2018.

The prosecution recommended 15 years in prison for Ibrahim, now accusing him of complicity to murder rather than the original charge of involvement in a gang murder.

Just a month before her death, Campos was among a group who hired a guard to protect them while working among dense trees with no public lighting.

The assailants were armed with tear gas, tree branches, a knife, a stun gun, and a pistol that had been stolen a week earlier from a police car while the officer was with a prostitute.

Several other men, aged 23 to 34, are charged with participating in the murder — five for taking part in the assault, and a sixth for stealing the pistol.

Campos’s mother and sister, who live in Peru, are civil plaintiffs in the case along with six of her former colleagues, the bodyguard, the Acceptess-T transgender advocacy association and the Mouvement du Nid prostitute support
group.

Acceptess-T in particular argues that increased violence against prostitutes stems from a 2016 law making it illegal to buy sex in France but not to sell it, shifting the criminal responsibility to clients who can be fined if caught.

While some groups say the law helps protect women from trafficking and exploitation by discouraging prostitution, many sex workers say it has made their jobs more dangerous and deprived them of income.

A verdict is expected later Saturday.

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POLICE

French pensioner pushed out of 17th-floor window ‘may have been victim of anti-Semitic attack’

An 89-year-old man who was pushed out of his 17th-storey window by a neighbour may have been killed because he was Jewish, a prosecutor said on Friday, after several shocking anti-Semitic murders in France in recent years.

French pensioner pushed out of 17th-floor window 'may have been victim of anti-Semitic attack'

The victim’s body was found at the foot of his building in Lyon, southeast France, on May 17th and the 51-year-old neighbour was arrested. But investigators did not initially charge him with a racist crime.

Last Sunday, the BNVCA anti-Semitism watchdog group said it would seek to be a plaintiff in the case, citing its similarity with the 2017 murder of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old thrown from her window in a case that sparked national outcry.

“After social media postings were provided to us, the prosector’s office has asked judges to consider the aggravating circumstance of an act committed because of the victim’s ethnicity, nationality, race or religion,” Lyon prosecutor Nicolas Jacquet told AFP.

He did not provide examples of the posts, but Gilles-William Goldnadel, a lawyer and commentator for CNews television, said on Wednesday on Twitter that the suspect had called out Goldnabel in messages, including one that told him to “remember your origins.”

“It’s no longer a question of telling us it’s the act of a mentally disturbed person. The truth of anti-Semitism must no longer be hidden,” Goldnadel wrote.

France has grappled with a sharp rise in violence targeting its roughly 500,000 Jews, the largest community in Europe, in addition to jihadist attacks in recent years.

The murder of Halimi drew particular outrage after the killer, who had shouted “Allahu akbar” (“God is greatest” in Arabic), avoided trial because a judge determined he was under the influence of drugs and not criminally responsible.

That prompted President Emmanuel Macron to seek a law change to ensure people face responsibility for violent crimes while under the influence of drugs, which was adopted in December 2021.

In 2018, 85-year-old Mireille Knoll was brutally stabbed in an attack by two men said to have been looking for “hidden treasures” in her Paris apartment.

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