French paedophilia trial implodes

19th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

SAINT-OMER, France, May 19 (AFP) - The trial of 17 people charged with gang raping children in northern France has imploded, with two defendants admitting they lied and exonerating 13 of the accused.

SAINT-OMER, France, May 19 (AFP) - The trial of 17 people charged with gang raping children in northern France has imploded, with two defendants admitting they lied and exonerating 13 of the accused.

Myriam Delay, the woman at the centre of what was thought to be a massive child prostitution ring based out of her home in Outreau outside the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, cracked late Tuesday, recanting her version of events.

"I'm sick, I'm a liar, I lied about everything! Why? Because I went along with the children," she told the court in Saint-Omer, provoking sobs from the shell-shocked defendants' bench.

"Roselyne, you didn't do anything!" she said to the neighborhood baker, subsequently addressing several of the accused by name to clear them of all wrongdoing.

Delay, her husband Thierry and 15 others went on trial two weeks ago for the gang rape over a five-year period of 18 children - aged three to 12 at the time - in a case that shocked the nation.

Some of the defendants, aged 24 to 67, were also charged with committing torture and barbaric acts during the alleged sex sessions that took place in the Delay apartment in a rundown housing block in Outreau.

One of the accused committed suicide in prison before the case came to trial.

Delay and her husband have admitted to raping their own four children, but claimed their children and other area youths had been passed around for sex among other members of the community, including a bailiff and a priest.

The minors, once they had been placed in foster care, told investigators they had been fondled, raped, coerced into performing sex acts and forced to watch pornographic films, and named other individuals involved.

But their testimony was riddled with inconsistencies from the outset. Moreover, most of the defendants vehemently and repeatedly denied any involvement, but prosecutors pressed ahead with the case.

Aurelie Grenon, the Delays' neighbour, also retracted her accusations against the 13 defendants, saying: "Well, when I accused those people, it was because I heard Myriam name them, and I know that's not right. She asked me to."

Grenon and her former boyfriend David Delplanque have admitted to raping the Delay children over a four-month period in 1998.

Following Tuesday's courtroom bombshell, the defendants who now seem to have been falsely accused are wondering how to repair their shattered lives, and asking how the justice system could have failed them so miserably.

"I will have to rebuild everything that I have lost. The months in prison, my life ruined - I will never be able to erase that," said defendant Odile Marecaux, who stood accused along with her bailiff husband Alain.

The couple separated in the aftermath of the scandal, and Odile Marecaux lost custody of their three children three years ago. One of their sons was hospitalized after trying to kill himself by swallowing razor blades.

"This is the unfortunate confirmation of a diabolical legal blunder," said Hubert Delarue, lawyer for Alain Marecaux.

"This case proves that the legal system is on its last legs, as we have now seen the total negation of any presumption of innocence," Delarue added.

Myriam Delay was to face tough questioning from judges on Wednesday. If she confirms her statements, 13 of the 17 defendants are likely to be acquitted when a verdict is handed down in early June.

Legal experts are also wondering how the Delay children could have given a list of names of their supposed attackers that neither they nor their mother even knew.

If found innocent, the 13 defendants could then file for compensation.

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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