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article image'Humanitarian immunity' for Frenchman who aided pregnant migrant

By AFP     Nov 2, 2018 in World

Prosecutors in France on Friday said they had dropped legal proceedings against a man who rescued a Nigerian migrant about to give birth on the Franco-Italian border in freezing weather, citing "humanitarian immunity".

Benoit Ducos, a volunteer helping migrants coming across the border, found the Nigerian family -- a couple and their two children -- and two others who had carried the woman, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, during their trek through the snowy terrain.

Ducos and another volunteer decided to drive the woman to hospital in the nearby town of Briancon, with her contractions beginning during the journey.

The baby was born by caesarean section later that night.

The authorities opened an investigation into whether Ducos had assisted the entry and movement of an illegal alien.

After inquiries into the "circumstances in which the help was given", however, the public prosecutor's office decided to take no further action.

In a statement released on Friday, local public prosecutor Raphael Balland explained that for the offence of assisting entry the charge had been insufficiently specific as the investigation failed to determine if Ducos took part "directly or indirectly in organising the illegal journey from the border of these people in particularly perilous conditions".

For the offence of helping them on their journey, the magistrate had invoked "humanitarian immunity" given the absence of any payment and the dangerous weather conditions, in particular for the pregnancy woman", the statement added.

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