SHARE
COPY LINK

HUNTING

French hunter ‘sorry’ after killing Franco-British man he mistook for boar

A French hunter told a court Thursday that he was sorry and "marked for life" after killing a man he mistook for a wild boar, an accident that has sparked calls for tighter restrictions on shooting in rural areas.

French hunter 'sorry' after killing Franco-British man he mistook for boar
Portraits and candles are displayed during a march to pay tribute to Morgan Keane, who was killed by two hunters, in Cajarc, southwestern France. (Photo by Valentine CHAPUIS / AFP)

The death of Morgan Keane, a Franco-British man aged 25, caused outrage in 2020 when he was shot while cutting wood near his house in the village of Calvignac in southwest France.

The man who fired the fatal shot and the 51-year-old organiser of the hunt went on trial on Thursday in the nearby town of Cahors, charged with involuntary manslaughter.

If convicted, they face up to three years in prison and a fine of €75,000.

“There isn’t a day I don’t think about it, it’s marked me for life. I’m sorry,” the shooter told the court, admitting that he had not “identified the target”.

The case has revived tensions between anti-hunting activists and defenders of a rural hobby and practice that is seen as necessary by farmers to keep down deer and boar populations in particular.

During the busy times of the hunting season, large parts of the French countryside reverberate with the sound of gunshot, leading many walkers to avoid forested areas for their own safety.

“A lot of people support us,” said Audrey Tindiliere, a member of a collective campaigning for restrictions which was set up after Keane’s death.

“Eighty percent of people are in favour of strengthening the regulation of hunting in order to improve the sharing of the countryside with hunters,” she told AFP before the trial.

State prosecutors called for the shooter to be given a two-year jail term, with 18 months suspended, underscoring “the seriousness of the shortcomings that led to the death of Morgan Keane”.

A verdict is expected on January 12.

Frequent accidents

Hunters form a powerful political lobby in France through the National Federation of Hunters (FNC).   

The head of the FNC, Willy Schraen, called for an “exemplary verdict” in the Keane case, an acknowledgement of the strong public feelings around the death.

Keane, whose father was British and mother French, was inside the boundary of his property.

“We ban hunters who do not respect the most basic rules. It mustn’t happen again. It’s unacceptable that this mistake led to the death of a man,” he said.

“If you don’t know what you’re shooting at, you don’t shoot.”

The number of hunting accidents has fallen over the last 20 years, according to the government’s Office for Biodiversity.

There were 90 accidents during the 2021/22 season, eight of which were fatal, including two people who were not hunters, the figures show.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

CRIME

French ex-minister convicted in fake jobs scam

A French court on Thursday found former justice minister Michel Mercier guilty of embezzlement in a fake jobs scheme he ran for the benefit of family members.

French ex-minister convicted in fake jobs scam

Mercier, 75, who served under former president Nicolas Sarkozy between 2010 and 2012, claimed tens of thousands of euros for his wife and daughter for parliamentary jobs  they never carried out.

The court handed him a suspended prison sentence of three years.

Mercier gave “personal gain precedence over the public good”, the court said in its verdict, calling Mercier’s actions “serious”.

As senator, Mercier claimed 50,000 euros ($54,000 at today’s rate) in salary for his wife Joelle between 2005 and 2009, and  €37,000 for his daughter Delphine between 2012 and 2014.

During that time, Delphine Mercier was living in London and did not set foot in the French Senate, but her father claimed she was acting as his “cultural advisor”.

Neither Mercier nor his daughter were able to provide any proof of actual work done.

Joelle Mercier, meanwhile, claimed during the trial that she had served as her husband’s representative at village fairs and funerals.

She was found guilty of conspiracy to embezzle public funds and of receiving stolen money and sentenced to a suspended prison term of 18 months and a €40,000 fine.

The court handed the daughter a 12-month suspended sentence and a fine of €10,000.

Prosecutors had asked for the ex-minister to serve one year behind bars, accusing him of “creating smoke screens” in his defence and seeking to mislead the court.

Mercier had based part of his defence on his rural roots, pitting his “common sense” against the “Parisians” of the national financial crimes unit PNF.

Several French politicians have been convicted for similar offences committed before France in 2017 banned National Assembly deputies and senators from employing family members.

The move came in reaction to a public outcry over a high-profile case involving former right-wing prime minister Francois Fillon, who was found guilty of providing a fake parliamentary assistant job to his wife that saw her paid hundreds of thousands of euros in public funds.

The “Penelopegate” scandal, revealed in a media report while he was the front-runner in the 2017 presidential race, torpedoed  his political career and cleared a path for then-relatively unknown Emmanuel Macron.

Last year, a court trimmed Fillon’s sentence to four years in prison with three suspended — down from five years with three suspended when he was first found guilty in 2020.

SHOW COMMENTS