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French report French report
by Euro Reporter
2010-07-31 08:27:01
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Sarkozy looks to strip citizenship from those who threaten police

President Nicolas Sarkozy warned on Friday that France would strip foreign-born criminals of their French nationality if they use violence against police or public officials. Struggling in the opinion polls after his government was implicated in a financial scandal and in the wake of a spate of violent unrest; Sarkozy announced a headline-grabbing package of security measures. Top of the list, in a week when Sarkozy had already threatened to expel foreign Roma minorities who commit crimes back to Eastern Europe, was a vow to tighten nationality rules for other non-French-born criminals. "Nationality should be stripped from anyone of foreign origin who deliberately endangers the life of a police officer, a soldier or a gendarme or anyone else holding public authority," Sarkozy said.

Speaking in the eastern city of Grenoble, scene in recent weeks of clashes between police and armed rioters, Sarkozy said that foreign minors who commit crimes would henceforth find it harder to get citizenship on coming of age. During fierce street battles on the weekend of July 16, rioters opened fire and torched shops and cars in Grenoble after police shot dead a 27-year-old suspected robber in a chase. A prosecutor ruled police had fired in self-defence after the suspect opened fire on them with an automatic weapon. In a separate clash last week, masked rioters tried to break down the door of a police station in Saint-Aignan, central France, damaged buildings and burned cars in anger after police shot dead a Gypsy during a car chase.

Sarkozy reacted to the cases of unrest by declaring a "war on crime" last week. On Wednesday, Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux vowed to tear down illegal Gypsy camps and expel Gypsies from other EU states who break the law, after Sarkozy said the minority posed security "problems." Those raids began on Friday, when police drove out about 50 Roma from a squat in Montreuil, east of Paris, Roma groups said. On Friday Sarkozy also promised to review the welfare payments made to non-documented immigrants in France. He also proposed to raise minimum sentences for all aggravated offences such as attacks on public officials, including a fixed 30-year jail term for killing a police officer, and make repeat offenders wear electronic tags after release.


Mother 'relieved' to have admitted killing her newborns, lawyer says

The French mother who admitted killing eight of her newborn babies is relieved her secret is finally out, her lawyer said Friday, in a case that has stunned the country. Relatives voiced disbelief that Dominique Cottrez, 45, hid eight pregnancies and births and smothered the newborns, whose bodies were found in plastic bin bags in the quiet northern village of Villers-au-Tertre. Colleagues who worked alongside the auxiliary nurse described her as "a pearl", with whom they would not have hesitated to leave their own kids, and struggled to comprehend the horrific story that has emerged.

Cottrez was charged with multiple murders Thursday after she admitted smothering the eight infants. Police found the skeletal remains buried in a garden and hidden under household clutter in a garage. "She doesn't have to carry this on her conscience any more, and that's a kind of relief," her lawyer Frank Berton told reporters, adding that she was "tired, worn out and battered down" after her questioning. Her husband, 45-year-old carpenter Pierre-Marie Cottrez, has not been charged and insists he had had no idea that his wife was pregnant on any of the eight occasions that led to the babies' deaths.
His lawyer said the mother must have had some psychological problem, supporting the defence's attempts to portray her as a victim of a syndrome known as "denial of pregnancy". "Given the number of children found, we are looking at a situation of denial of pregnancy or serious psychological or psychiatric problems," said lawyer Pierre-Jean Gribouva.

French police quiz L'Oréal heiress's financial advisor again

French police detained the financial advisor of L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for questioning Friday, in a probe that has embarrassed President Nicolas Sarkozy's government, officials said. The financial crimes squad detained the advisor, Patrice de Maistre, for the second time in a probe of Bettencourt's finances that has also implicated Labour Minister Eric Woerth, a key member of Sarkozy's government.

Woerth was questioned by police on Thursday and has denied any wrongdoing in the affair linked to the fortune of Bettencourt, who is the billionaire heiress to the L'Oreal cosmetics empire and France's richest woman. Judicial sources said Friday that Maistre would be asked to respond to Woerth's testimony as well to allegations that he had handled illegal payments to Sarkozy's presidential election campaign.

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