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Magistrates strike after criticism

President Sarkozy's call for "punishment" for those who released a repeat offender now suspected of murder, leads to strike

MAGISTRATES are to strike this week following comments by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The President called for those involved in the release of a repeat offender suspected of murdering 18-year-old Laëtitia Perrais to be punished.

The teenager went missing on January 18, near her home in Pornic in the Loire-Atlantique. Her dismembered body was found in a lake last week.

President Sarkozy last week called for punishment for those who made the mistake of allowing the principal suspect, a 31-year-old violent offender, to be released and not under supervision.

Magistrates will suspend cases in Marseille, Nice, Nancy, Metz and Caen; other jurisdictions will only be dealing with urgent cases.

The strikes will continue until a national day of protest on Thursday.

Magistrates' unions claim that a lack of resources is behind the lack of supervision and reintegration of offenders.
The strike movement has centred on the Nantes jurisdiction, which was responsible for following the offender. It claims a huge backlog of cases.

A spokesman for the magistrates' union told Le Figaro: "Everyone knows that no one has made a mistake. The choices were approved up the chain of authority: there were no resources to do any better."

The Justice Minister, Michel Mercier, has sought to play down the president's comments, saying that the profession of magistrate had not been criticised in its totality.

Paty Cullen Wingrove -

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