Court hands down guilty verdicts in child sex trial

27th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

ANGERS, France, July 27 (AFP) - Jail terms of up to 28 years were handed down Wednesday at the end of the biggest paedophile trial in French legal history, after key defendants were convicted of the rape and sexual abuse of children as young as six months of age.

ANGERS, France, July 27 (AFP) - Jail terms of up to 28 years were handed down Wednesday at the end of the biggest paedophile trial in French legal history, after key defendants were convicted of the rape and sexual abuse of children as young as six months of age.

Some of those found guilty in the four-and-a-half month trial had prostituted and abused their own offspring, in what was described to the court as a nightmarish routine of incest and pornography-fuelled depravity that lasted more than two years.

Altogether 65 men and women were accused of taking part in the sex sessions in a poor neighbourhood of the central town of Angers between 1999 and 2002, some of them even bartering their children for food parcels or cartons of cigarettes, the court heard.

Some 45 children were subjected to the abuse, aged between six months and 12 years.

After nine days of secluded deliberation at a local military college, the nine-member jury found the organisers of the network guilty of the rape and prostitution of minors and the court sentenced them to prison terms of up to 28 years.

A couple named as Franck V and his former partner Patricia M, in whose apartment much of the abuse took place, were given 18 and 16 years. Both were found guilty of abusing their own daughters.

Franck V's father Philippe V was sentenced to 28 years in jail. He was one of the instigators of the vice-ring and already had a conviction for raping his son. He was shown in the trial to have raped one his granddaughters.

Two brothers named as Jean-Marc and Eric J, who also had criminal records for child abuse, were given 26 and 28 years. In a reference to Greek mythology, the prosecutor had described Eric as "Chronos, the Titan who devoured his own children," because two of his offspring were victims of the ring.

Didier R was founded guilty of prostituting 31 children as well as rape and was given 18 years in jail.

In a lengthy court session likely to last several hours, verdicts were still being handed down on lesser defendants Wednesday evening. There were three acquittals.

The judge banned reporting of full names in order to protect the children of the accused.

The jury ignored the arguments of defence lawyers, who said that in so monumental a trial -- a charge sheet of 25,000 pages, 250 witnesses, and 93 days of hearings -- it was impossible to reach fair conclusions on the guilt or innocence of 65 individuals.

"Our fears are very real. We are very afraid there'll be a kind of collective responsibility -- a generalised guilt. It will be extremely hard for jurors to treat each accused as a separate person," defence attorney Pascal Rouiller said during the trial.

Another defence lawyer, Patrick Descamps, said the court had to take into account "the background to the affair, which is social deprivation, failures of the judicial and social services, pornography. Nearly all the accused were themselves abused when they were children. They had no trial."

Of the 65 accused, 26 were female -- charges against a 27th were dropped because of ill health -- and the trial challenged widespread preconceptions about the role of women in paedophilia.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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