Sunday, October 17, 2021

French farmer given suspended fine for helping migrants

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French farmer Cedric Herrou arrives at the Nice court house on February 10, 2017, for his trial for illegally assisting migrants.
Herrou, who has become one of the symbols of Europe’s migrant crisis after helping Africans to slip into the country from Italy, was given a suspended fine of 3,000 euros on February 10. / AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHE

A French farmer who has become one of the symbols of Europe’s migrant crisis after helping Africans to slip into the country was given a suspended fine of 3,000 euros ($3,200) on Friday.

Cedric Herrou, 37, was tried for illegally helping migrants across the French-Italian border under the noses of the French police, and then giving them accommodation.

The sentence is far lighter than the eight-month prison term that prosecutors had requested.

Herrou was unrepentant before hearing the verdict, saying he would not stop helping people who had come to Europe.

“We will continue to act despite the threats from the state and the prosecutor,” he told Europe 1 radio.

At his trial last month, he said he was compelled to help migrants “because it has to be done… families are suffering.”

A small group of Herrou’s supporters gathered in the drizzle outside the court building in Nice on Friday.

He is one of several people to appear in court in southern France recently charged with illegally assisting migrants who have travelled up through Europe after crossing the Mediterranean in rickety boats.

Their cases have pitched the spirit of solidarity against the letter of the law at a time when border controls and migration have become hot issues in the run-up to this year’s presidential and legislative elections in France.

On January 7, a court acquitted researcher Pierre-Alain Mannoni, who had faced a six-month suspended jail sentence for aiding Eritrean migrants who entered France from Italy.

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