The investigation into pedophilia in the northern French town of Outreau that began in 1997 had long since metastasized: 17 adults charged and jailed, children forced into foster care, one successful suicide and another attempted. Last week it collapsed into a hideous lie, raising grave questions about French justice.
Myriam Delay, her husband, Thierry, and their neighbors David Delplanque and Aurélie Grenon have all admitted to sexually abusing the Delay children. But the exceptionally talkative Myriam had kept the legal machine rolling for years by confirming the children's otherwise unsubstantiated charges that others were involved: the taxi driver that took them on their monthly shopping trips; the woman that sold them bread from a grocery truck; the well-liked local priest. On Tuesday Myriam proclaimed in court that none of the other 13 had done anything wrong, crying, "I'm a sick person and a liar!"
Shock turned to anger, however, when the presiding judge acting against even the prosecutor's recommendation released only one of the seven of those 13 defendants still in prison. Since Grenon, one of the four admitted
A Hidden Danger?
BRITAIN New research published in the Journal of Pathology suggested that as many as 3,800 Britons could be unknowingly harboring variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the human form of mad cow disease. The government estimates that 141 people have died from vCJD since the illness was identified in 1995.
Air of Regret
SWITZERLAND The government apologized to Russia as investigators concluded that Swiss air traffic control problems were partly to blame when a Russian passenger jet and a DHL cargo plane collided over Germany in July 2002, killing 71. The Russian crew heeded instructions from an air traffic controller that took them into the cargo plane's path. The controller was murdered in February in a suspected revenge attack.
Not a Candidate
CHECHNYA Ramzan Kadyrov, 27, the son of assassinated leader Akhmad Kadyrov, said he would not run in the Aug. 29 presidential election. His statement followed Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision not to respond publicly to a Chechen appeal to reduce the minimum age requirement in the constitution set at 30 in order to allow for Ramzan's candidacy. Warlord Shamil Basayev claimed responsibility for Akhmad's May 9 murder.
EGYPT Officials arrested 54 members of the Muslim Brotherhood organization on suspicion of recruiting volunteers for jihad in Iraq , Chechnya and Palestine . Officials claimed that the Brotherhood legally banned since 1954 was hoping to train the members to eventually return home to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak's regime. Senior Brotherhood leader Essam El Eryan told TIME that his group was "against violence."
NORTH KOREA After meeting with leader Kim Jong Il, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi won the release of five children of former Japanese abductees who were kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970s and set free almost two years ago. In return, Koizumi pledged emergency aid for North Korea.