Police, judges target Sarkozy after teen murder horror

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President Nicolas Sarkozy was under fire Friday from France's police and magistrates, outraged at his claim their incompetence let a repeat sex offender allegedly murder and dismember a teenage girl.

The magistrates' union called for courthouses across the country to go on strike until February 10 in protest, while two major police unions accused the president of using the murder to further his own right-wing political aims.

The head, arms and legs of 18-year-old Laetitia Perrais were found in a pond in the west of France on Tuesday. Police were Friday still looking for her torso.

The main suspect in her murder, Tony Meilhon, 31, had been jailed several times for crimes including sexual offences.

Sarkozy said Thursday that "serious dysfunctions" in the police and judicial services had led to the suspect, who is now in police custody, being released without being properly supervised.

But both police and magistrates say that they had carried out their duties as best as they could, and blamed Sarkozy's government for not providing them with enough staff to keep tabs on sex offenders when they are released.

© 2011 AFP

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