Trial opens of youth accused of burning girl alive

31st March 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 31, 2006 (AFP) - A 22 year-old French man went on trial in the Paris suburb of Creteil Friday accused of burning a teenage girl to death in a crime that became an emblem of the sufferings of young women in poor French neighbourhoods.

PARIS, March 31, 2006 (AFP) - A 22 year-old French man went on trial in the Paris suburb of Creteil Friday accused of burning a teenage girl to death in a crime that became an emblem of the sufferings of young women in poor French neighbourhoods.

Prosecutors say that in October 2002 Jamal Derrar doused 17 year-old Sohane Benziane with petrol at the foot of a tower-block in Vitry-sur-Seine, southeast of Paris, and set her on fire. She died two hours later in hospital.

Derrar, who says he only meant to scare the girl, acted to avenge himself after he was humiliated in a fight with her boyfriend, investigators believe.

He is accused of "acts of torture and barbarity that unintentionally led to death" and faces a possible life term in jail.

Tony Rocca, 23, is accused of abetting Derrar by guarding the door of the bin-room where the crime took place, and also risks life in jail.

Sohane's death provoked national outrage, and a campaigning group — Neither Whores nor Slaves — was set up to draw attention to the mistreatment of women in France's high-immigration city suburbs.

"There are loads of girls in the estates who get hit or humiliated, and no one gives a damn. When a girl gets smacked in the face, no one bats an eye. It's just normal," said Sohane's sister Kahina in an interview with Le Point magazine this week.

"In every estate there is some girl who has been beaten or raped but who refuses to go to the police. It was only when my sister was burned alive that people began talking," she said.

The trial is due to last a week.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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