Fear and anger at new arson attack

Brittany village hit by eighth firebug incident in a year where empty second homes are hit

4 December 2012

RESIDENTS in the Morbihan village of Larmor-Baden have reacted with fear and anger after the eighth firebug attack on empty properties in the past year.

Mayor Denis Bertholom said everybody feared they would be the next victim – and he was upset that the most recent attack had been on the village manse, a building that had just been sold for restoration.

Gendarmes have been trying to find the arsonist since the first series of attacks on December 17, 2011 when three buildings were set ablaze. Since then five other properties have been hit, mostly second homes owned by French people.

However, between an attack on a La Poste building in January this year there were no further attempts until September when a garage at a second home was set alight. After another attack, on the LaVoile-Blanche restaurant, the authorities organised a public meeting to reassure the villagers.

All the properties attacked were empty and Mr Bertholom said the firebug had to be someone who knew the Brittany village and its inhabitants very well.

The presbytère had been unoccupied since 2005 and had just been sold at auction to buyers who were looking to refurbish it. They were going the sign the compromise this week.

Residents told journalists it was leaving a “bad feeling” in the village with everyone asking themselves questions on their neighbours.

So far, the gendarmes have questioned several people but have little evidence to work on.

Their failure to find the firebug has led to residents saying they would start up their own patrols – a worrying development for Mr Bertholom, who told Europe 1: “I would never wish for people to watch the streets and start playing gendarme. We have seen enough examples of people being lynched after the finger of suspicion is pointed.”

Photo: Screengrap from Ouest-France website

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