Stars back accused nanny

A committee of French writers, singers and sports-people has started a campaign to free a French nanny accused of the manslaughter of an 11-month-old baby. The case of Marie-Christine Atouillan, placed in custody two months ago, will be reconsidered by an appeal court in Versailles tomorrow.

Ms Atouillan, 28, is from the French Caribbean island of Martinique; her formal document of accusation describes her as a "person of colour", something extremely unusual in French legal procedure. The nanny's supporters believe that there was an element of racial prejudice in the decision to begin criminal proceedings against her.

Ms Atouillan, married with two small children of her own, was left in sole charge of an 11-month-old baby boy in a suburban house west of Paris last November. The child was taken to hospital after Ms Atouillan said that he had fallen from his bed. He died that night from a cerebral haemorrhage.

The appeal court in Versailles will decide tomorrow whether, at the very least, to free the nanny while the investigation continues.

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