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Woman goes on trial for helping a teenage illegal immigrant

Video by FRANCE 3

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-07-27

A 50-year-old French woman faces trial in the southern town of Foix for taking in and assisting a teenage Afghan illegal immigrant, although French immigration minister maintains that “solidarity is not a crime”.

50-year-old Claudine Louis meant well when she took in Obaidullah Samari, a 16-year-old Afghan who was living in France illegally. She met him on the street in central Paris and felt sorry for the cold, hungry and isolated young boy.

However, in deciding to help him, she fell foul of France’s legal system. On trial for “unlawful assistance of an illegal immigrant”, she faces up to five years in jail and a 30,000 euro fine. Prosecution has asked for a “symbolic sentence”, but her lawyer, Guy Dedieu, has called for her acquittal.

“Madame Louis met a young person in an extremely vulnerable situation. He was sick, he had no family, no passport, no place to go. All she wanted to do was help”, he told reporters.

Prosecutors maintain that if Claudine Louis does not face trial, it opens a legal loophole for smugglers of under-age migrants.

Claudine Louis sheltered Obaidullah in her home in the southern town of Saint-Girons for three months. During that time, she made enquiries concerning the possibility of making his situation in France legal. Realising this was near impossible, she handed him over to local authorities who placed him in a foster home awaiting his extradition.

Date created : 2009-07-22

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