Man who raped Canadian in France may have fled

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Officials say the rapist who is of Middle Eastern origin is likely to have left for England, Belgium, Netherlands or another French port.

29 August 2008

BOULOGNE -- A man who raped a Canadian journalism student as she reported on illegal immigrants in the French port of Calais may have fled to Britain, officials said.

The rapist is of Middle Eastern origin, a migrant or possibly a people smuggler, who speaks good French and may have been living for some time in the Calais region, said prosecutor Philippe Muller.

He has not been identified but investigators have his fingerprints and samples of his DNA. Around 100 migrants have been questioned by police since Tuesday.

"It is likely he has already left, perhaps for England or for another French port or perhaps he has headed to Belgium or the Netherlands," Muller told a press conference in the nearby town of Boulogne.

The victim, who is believed to be 31 years old, and a witness helped police draw identikit pictures of the suspect, which have been sent to French ports, British police and the international police agency Interpol.

According to Muller, the victim, a student in a London journalism school, is still in France on Friday and is helping police try to find the man who attacked her on Tuesday evening as she photographed migrants living in a makeshift camp in a forest nicknamed "The Jungle".

"The Jungle" is a well-known meeting point for human traffickers and illegal immigrants looking for an opportunity to cross the English Channel into Britain.

"She is in shock, she is suffering, but she is also very courageous," said Muller.

The rapist is one of the men the victim was photographing, he said, adding that the young woman had made three previous visits to the camp which lies close to the ferry terminal in Calais.

On the pretext of wanting to show her something, her attacker led her away from the group and into one of the makeshift shelters where he raped her and hit her in the face, said Muller.

The attack lasted half an hour and ended only when another migrant approached the shelter.

Monique Delannoy, from the Belle Etoile aid group which provides meals to migrants in Calais, said she always advised journalists not to visit "The Jungle" unaccompanied.

Calais became a destination for migrants in the late 1990s with the opening of the Sangatte refugee camp, right next to the entrance to the Channel Tunnel linking France and Britain.

The camp was finally closed in 2002 but migrants still come to Calais in their attempts to get to Britain.

[AFP / Expatica]

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