Four suicides follow French child porn raid

Four suicides in five days have thrown into question the methods, and motives, of the French gendarmerie and judiciary which made simultaneous dawn raids on more than 600 suspected consumers of child pornography last week.

On Saturday, a teacher, Gilbert Pic, 40, threw himself to his death from the Aquitaine bridge over the Garonne in Bordeaux. He was the fourth paedophile suspect to take his life since the raids across France on Tuesday morning.

He and one of the others had been charged with the legally minor - but professionally and socially devastating - crime of possession of videos portraying scenes of sex with children. A senior business executive in Tulle, Correze, hung himself on Thursday after child pornography cassettes were found at his home. He left a note saying: "I cannot go on. Forgive me."

The other two men who killed themselves, including an invalid, had been questioned at length but charged with nothing.

Henri Leclerc, president of the French league for Human Rights, said the suicides cast doubt on the deliberately dramatic and highly-publicised raids. Not everyone who bought a pornographic cassette, even a child-porn cassette, was "another Marc Dutroux [the Belgian accused of a series of sexually-motivated child murders]," he said.

The Journal de Dimanche, while applauding the crack-down on French paedophiles after years of "laxity", said yes- terday that a media circus and a rash of suicides was neither a just nor an effective way to protect children.

The judicial authorities pointed out, however, that the raids did not just lead to the arrest of consumers of child porn. Seven men arrested on Tuesday had been charged with taking part in, and filming, sexual acts with minors.

The authorities also pointed out that many of the 235 men charged had jobs which brought them into contact with children. They included 31 teachers, two holiday centre directors, two priests, and six doctors, one of whom was a paediatrician.

"The overwhelming profile is middle class," an investigator said.

Most of those charged are accused of possessing child porno-grpahy and face prison terms of between one and three years, depending on the age of the children involved. The raids coincided with the start of the trial in Paris of the alleged ring-leaders of a network for filming and selling child pornography, arrested last year.

The addresses of the men raided on Tuesday came from the files of this network, codenamed Toro Bravo, which sold cassettes by mail at FF800 (pounds 90) each.

The increased energy and resources devoted to child porno- graphy in France flows directly from public outrage generated by the Dutroux case in Belgium. Both French and Belgian investigators are working on links between Dutroux and French child-pornographers.

The Journal de Dimanche revealed yesterday that two of the men involved in the Toro Bravo paedophile ring had connections with the extreme right of French politics. One of the men, Bernard Alapetite, charged on Thursday, had several previous convictions for peddling child pornography. He is also an author of far-right tracts and books and a one-time associate of Jean-Francois Galvaire, a member of the political bureau of the National Front.

Mr Galvaire told the newspaper that he had had no recent connections with Mr Alapetite. Without challenging this assertion, Journal de Dimanche pointed out that Mr Alapetite's video-production company, Platypus, had until recently shared an address with an FN front organisation chaired by Mr Galvaire.

"There are lots of companies there, even some freemasons [a particular bugbear of the NF]," Mr Galvaire explained.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project