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article imageFrench court drops case against Amnesty volunteer who helped migrants

By AFP     Jul 13, 2018 in World

A French court on Friday ordered charges dropped against a 73-year-old Amnesty International volunteer who helped two underage Africans enter the country, one of several cases involving activists assisting migrants on the move through Europe.

Martine Landry was accused of aiding the Guinean youths to cross back into France illegally after they were arrested and returned to Italy during a raid at the farm where they had been sheltering.

She had been facing up to five years in prison or a maximum 30,000 euro fine ($35,000), though courts have often given much lighter sentences.

But last week France's Constitutional Court ruled that people could not be charged for helping migrants, saying such punishments went against a basic French "principle of fraternity".

At the court in Nice on Friday, the judge said Landry "had at no point sought to break the law, acting to the contrary in line with the law".

The pensioner argued that she stepped in to help the boys, said by Amnesty to be 15 years old, only after they crossed onto French soil and took them to the police to register for asylum.

"I am very happy to have done this because I applied the law, I am delighted and ready to start again," Landry said after the decision.

"Today's decision is not only a victory for justice but also for common sense. Martine Landry did nothing wrong," Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty's Europe director, said in a statement.

Landry's case had become a cause celebre among critics of President Emmanuel Macron's tough stance on migration after a sharp influx of people fleeing war and misery since 2015.

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