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Judges on streets in Sarko protest

Thousands demonstrated after Sarkzoy attacks judges and court officials after Laëtitia death

MAGISTRATES and court officials walked out on strike against the attacks by President Sarkozy in the wake of the death of Nantes student Laëtitia Perrais.

Thousands demonstrated in Paris, with hundreds more outside court buildings across the country and 2,000 in Nantes itself.

Laëtitia’s stepfather also addressed the Nantes protest and said people should “work together to beat the criminals ... and banish the word recidivist”.

It was estimated that 10,000 magistrates, court officials and lawyers were on the streets (there are 8,300 magistrates in France). The magistrates’ union said it was a historic moment.

They were protesting after Mr Sarkozy accused judges of letting Tony Meilhon, the main suspect in the death of Laëtitia, out of prison without making sure he had contact with a parole officer.

Magistrates complain that the judicial system in France is heavily overloaded– seven juges d'application des peines at Bobigny court in Seine-Saint-Denis said they had 10,600 cases between them – and underfunded: France ranks 37th in Europe for funding.

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