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Courts - france - French courts in crisis

French Courts in chaos

Child abuse trial's collapse pitches French justice system into crisis
By John Lichfield in Paris
20 May 2004


The French justice system was in disgrace yesterday after the spectacular
collapse of a high-profile trial in which 17 people, including a priest and
a property lawyer, were charged with paedophile and bestial acts. Two of the
accused - the mothers of six of the alleged child victims - abruptly
admitted to a court in Saint Omer, near Boulogne, on Tuesday night that they
had lied about the involvement of almost all the other defendants.

"I lied about everything," said one of the women, Myriam Delay, 37,
interrupting the proceedings. "I am a sick woman and a liar ... Roselyne you
did nothing. M. Godard, he too did nothing. David Brunet the same. Karine,
you did nothing ..." One by one she exculpated the other defendants, who had
been accused by herself and her four children of being involved in an
elaborate child-prostitution ring, including among other things forcing
children to perform sexual acts with dogs. Her neighbour, Aurélie Grenon,
then withdrew her identical accusations.

One of the accused, Alain Marécaux, a court bailiff and property lawyer, 44,
shouted: "I've lost everything. They stole my children. Killed my mother."
Several of those cleared, including M. Marécaux, had spent two and a half
years in jail. One accused man had committed suicide. Two others, including
the priest, Father Dominique Wiel, had been on hunger strike in prison to
protest their innocence. Marriages have broken up. Jobs had been lost. The
children of what now appear to be wholly innocent people have been placed in
care (one of whom tried to commit suicide at the start of the trial).

"This is a judicial Chernobyl... a surrealist folly," said Maître Hubert

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