Accused take stand in Angers paedophile trial

4th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

ANGERS, France, May 3 (AFP) - One of France's largest-ever criminal trials in which 66 men and women are accused of widespread child sex abuse entered a critical phase Tuesday when one of the main defendants took the stand.

ANGERS, France, May 3 (AFP) - One of France's largest-ever criminal trials in which 66 men and women are accused of widespread child sex abuse entered a critical phase Tuesday when one of the main defendants took the stand.  

A 35-year-old man charged with raping 15 of the 45 victims involved in the case and providing 30 others to adults for sex, admitted for the first time that he had fondled his own three children, but denied having sex with him.  

The defendant identified as Franck also denied organizing evening sex sessions and told the court in the western city of Angers - contrary to his prior statements - that he had never received payment for sex acts committed at his home.  

"Most of what I said before was made up. Today, I'm telling the truth," he told the court.  

Full identification of the accused has been barred as some are related to their alleged victims.  

After admitting he had "caressed" the genitals of his own children, Franck - the first defendant to take the stand - added: "Maybe I did other things. I don't remember anymore."  

The massive paedophilia case, which opened two months ago, has shocked the country, as the victims were aged six months to 12 years at the time of the alleged rapes and sexual assaults, committed between 1999 and 2002.  

Three face up to life in prison if convicted, and the others face lesser jail terms ranging from three to 20 years.  

All of the defendants come from the poorest and least educated sections of society, and lived in the Saint Leonard quarter of Angers, a largely pleasant and leafy historic town.  

Investigators were alerted to the network when they started keeping tabs on Eric, a convicted sex offender released in 1999 who was supposedly taking a course of psychiatry. He and Franck are alleged to have founded the ring.  

The prosecution evidence shows that parents bartered their own children for small sums of money, food parcels and cartons of cigarettes. One 10-year-old girl was allegedly raped by more than 30 adults.  

Franck implicated his ex-wife, father, sister and aunt - all co-defendants - in the child sex ring.  

"My aunt has pinned things on me, my ex-wife too," he told the court.  

The trial is expected to last until July. 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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