THREE men have been jailed and ordered to pay €2,500 damages for taking the law into their own hands and forcing a thief to walk through a busy town naked and with his hands tied.
The thief, an illegal immigrant of African origin, had been lodging free of charge with one of the men, a 27-year-old also of African origin, in Niort, Poitou-Charentes.
During his stay of around 20 days, the man stole personal items, including jewellery and video games and identity papers which he then used to open accounts and obtain consumer loans. He used the money to buy three mobile phones and a laptop, which he resold.
His right to live in France expired in 2008 but his lawyer said he had “got into the habit of getting people from his community to help him out”.
However, after making a complaint to police, his victim and two friends decided to punish the man and they went to Nantes at dawn and found him in a flat where he was squatting.
They beat him up and took him back to Niort before stripping him and tying his hands and making him walk through town to the police station along streets near Les Halles (the covered market) on a market day.
At the hearing the judge reportedly asked: “Wasn’t that more the police’s job?”
The victim of the thefts replied that he was “annoyed” and thought “you humiliated me, I’m going to humiliate you”.
He added: “With hindsight I realise I behaved badly. I’m a passionate person. I opened my home and I can’t understand how he could do that to me.”
The thief was given six months’ prison, but also awarded €2,500 damages for the humiliation he suffered.
The main aggressor was given 10 months, seven suspended. One accomplice was given the same; the other, six months. The accomplices may be allowed to avoid prison by being electronically tagged instead.