French father ends crane protest for custody rights
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An estranged father in France’s western city of Nantes climbed down from his perch atop a towering crane on Monday, four days after climbing the structure to protest against a custody ruling he said "destroyed my family and our lives".
A father in France’s western city of Nantes ended his protest atop a towering crane on Monday, some two years after losing custody of his son. His spectacular four-day-long protest made headlines in France and prompted the government to intervene.
Serge Charnay reportedly decided to end his vigil after Justice Minister Christiane Taubira held a meeting on the custody rights of French fathers.
Braving the winter weather, Charnay climbed the giant yellow crane in the port of Nantes during the early hours of Friday, using the morning fog for cover. After reaching a lower platform, Charnay unfurled a banner on which he had scrawled a message in big block letters: “Benoît, two years without a dad”.
A member of the French advocacy group SVP Papa, which provides resources and support for fathers, said Charnay had struggled in vain over the past two years to win back the right to see his son. He lost custody and all visiting rights when he was accused of kidnapping the boy after taking him on a month-long vacation.
Authorities tried unsuccessfully for days to entice Charnay off the crane.
“His message of suffering has been understood; there is always a solution even if the solution is long,” Patrick Lapouze, sub-prefect of the Loire-Atlantique department, told journalists. “He’s asking for his situation to be reviewed because he feels as though he is at an impasse, which, after speaking with the justice system, is frankly not really the case.”
"I will stay here until I gain something significant," Charnay said in a text message from his mobile phone over the weekend.
He is seeking a reversal of the judicial order that he says "has destroyed my family and our lives".
Charnay's case will be reviewed on March 28.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault ordered the Monday meeting between Taubira, Family Affairs Minister Dominique Bertinotti and representatives of groups seeking to expand and defend the rights of fathers.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
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