EU rights court criticises France over anorexic prisoner

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Europe's rights court on Tuesday criticised France for failing to give an anorexic prisoner proper care or consider deferring her sentence on health grounds.

Virginie Raffrey Taddei, who was serving various sentences for embezzlement, fraud and forgery, repeatedly requested a deferral of her imprisonment due to her poor state of health, which included anorexia and Munchausen's syndrome.

In its verdict, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said French authorities had failed to adequately treat Taddei's anorexia, which at one stage led her weight to drop to 30/31 kilograms (66-70 pounds).

"The Court was struck by the contradiction between the care recommended by the doctors and the response of the national authorities," the verdict said.

This response "failed to consider an alternative to imprisonment that could have reconciled the general interest and the improvement of the applicant's state of health".

The court concluded that the failure by the national authorities to sufficiently to take into account the need for specialised care caused "distress that exceeded the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention".

The court did not order the payment of damages as Taddei had not submitted a claim.

© 2010 AFP

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