France to strip nationality from police killers: Sarkozy

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President Nicolas Sarkozy said Monday he will seek a law to strip immigrants who have been French for less than 10 years of their nationality if they kill or try to kill police or public officials.

By going for legislation, Sarkozy signalled his determination to push ahead with a tough crackdown on immigrant criminals, despite an international outcry and claims that he his pandering to far-right voters.

But his statement tempered a threat that a conviction for polygamy could also see foreign-born Frenchmen losing their citizenship. Instead, rules will be tightened to prevent them claiming welfare benefits for multiple wives.

The statement from the president's office said the government would draft a law "as soon as possible" to give judges:

"The possibility to withdraw French nationality, within 10 years of the granting of French nationality, to those who deliberately endanger the life of a person invested with public authority, particularly a police officer."

The government will also seek legislation "to facilitate the deportation of foreigners in irregular situations including, in some circumstances, citizens of the European Union."

This new rule would kick in when immigrants "threaten public order, have no durable means of supporting themselves or abuse the right of free movement."

The statement did not explicitly target any single minority, but it comes after Sarkozy ordered police to round-up hundreds of Romanian and Bulgarian Roma Gypsies and expel them back to their homelands.

French ministers insist that the round-up is legal under existing European and French legislation, but it attracted criticism from United Nations and EU rights experts as an apparent collective punishment.

Sarkozy announced the broad themes of the crackdown in a speech last month in the wake of riots in the eastern city of Grenoble, but until now the extent of the new laws had not been made clear.

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux had suggested the crimes leading to a loss of nationality for recent French citizens ought to include polygamy and female circumcision.

But the presidential statement said merely that rules would be tightened to allow fraud prosecutions where multiple claims were made for partners.

© 2010 AFP

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