French prison governor and prisoner 'had sex in computer room'


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The Independent Online

A young, reforming prison governor and a female prisoner who “fell in love” and had sex in the jail computer room appeared in court in France today.

The ex-lovers sat side-by-side in the dock in Versailles but scarcely looked at one another. The couple tried to renew their relationship when the young woman left prison in September but rapidly split up.

The couple, whose story caused a great scandal in France last January, face possible jail sentences. The public prosecutor asked last night for a two year sentence against the young woman and one year against the prison governor.

The young woman, Emma Arbabzadeh, 23, was jailed in 2008 for acting as the “bait”, at the age of 17, for the kidnap, torture and murder of a young Jewish businessman by a youth gang called “The Barbarians”. The governor, Florent Goncalves, 43, was the youngest jail chief in France, promoted from the ranks for his successful, liberal approach to prison reform.

Mr Goncalves, who has been dismissed from the prison service and has broken up with his wife, was accused of smuggling mobile-phone chips and money to his lover in prison. She was accused of receiving them.

In a book to be published today, Mr Goncalves, says that “unlikely as it sounds, we genuinely fell in love with another. It was quite sincere on both sides…Despite all the suffering and damage that it caused, I have no regrets”.

The public prosecutor, Naima Rudolf, said yesterday: “This is far from an ordinary boy meets girl story. He was the prison governor and she was an inmate.”

According to Mr Goncalves’ book, the couple fell in love while he was teaching Ms Arbabzadeh to use the computer system at a semi-open men and women’s prison in Versailles. He said that they twice had sex in the prison computer room before other inmates blew the whistle to the authorities.

The couple met several time after Ms Arbabzadeh left prison last year but “I never felt she was really with me”, he wrote. “We came back together, broke up again…before deciding to go our separate ways.”

The court was expected to delay judgement and sentence.