Europe

School murder scandal shocks France

Pictures of Agnes, the murdered French teenager (21 Nov 2011)
Image caption Agnes's burned body was found in a forest close to her school

The French government has condemned the judiciary's handling of a teenager accused of rape who went on to murder a girl from his boarding school.

The boy, identified as Mathieu M, 17, had spent four months in jail for raping a minor in southern France.

He had been under judicial supervision. The school said it had not been fully aware of his past.

Last Friday, the body of Agnes, 13, was found in a forest close to the school. She had been raped and burned.

'Sexual aggression'

Agnes's mother, Paola Marin, said she would not have died "but for a little less negligence" from the school.

The victim's father, Frederic Marin, alleged that the school, Cevenol International in Chambon-sur-Lignon, had been aware of the boy's history and that he had problems involving "acts of sexual aggression".

Head teacher Philippe Bauwens told French radio station RTL that the school was aware the boy had had problems with the judiciary but did not know their nature.

"We had no contact with the judicial authorities," he said.

'Dysfunction'

After an emergency meeting with fellow ministers on Monday, French Interior Minister Claude Gueant told TF1 television that "there had been a dysfunction" in the case and that reform of the justice system for minors would be a priority after elections next spring.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon said that in the most serious cases where a minor was a suspect, they should be "placed in a secure educational centre".

He also asked cabinet colleagues to ensure that it was no longer possible for a pupil to be enrolled in a school without the head teacher being fully informed of serious cases involving judicial supervision.

French media report that Mathieu M was accused of raping a childhood friend and that after four months in custody had been assessed as not posing any danger.

His parents were said to have looked for another school for him to complete his education but had been rejected on several occasions before being given a place at Cevenol International.

Agnes disappeared on Wednesday last week and her body was found two days later. The prosecutor said she had been murdered in an extremely brutal manner.

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