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Parents of three-year-old found dead in washing machine stand trial

Tributes to Bastien in Germigny-l'Evêque
Tributes to Bastien in Germigny-l'Evêque AFP

The parents of a three-year-old boy who died after being locked in a washing machine in 2011 appeared in court in northern France on Tuesday. The father of the boy, known by his first name, Bastien, is accused of aggravated murder and his mother of complicity in murder.


Bastien's father, Christophe Champenois, could face life in jail.

The boy's mother, Charlène Cotte, has denied the accusation of complicity in murder.

Bastien's body was found in the washing machine of his family's home in the small town of Germiny-L'Evêque, east of Paris, on 28 November 2011.

A neighbour ran to the scene when she heard the boy's mother calling for help.

She says the boy's corpse was "frozen, naked, pale, and disarticulated, like a toy".

According to the police, Bastien's father had locked his son in the washing machine to punish him for "supposed bad behaviour at school".

After being arrested, he claimed the child had fallen in the staircase but by the time the case went to trial his lawyer now said he couldn't remember the precise events.

The mother, who at the time of the incident had taken steps to have her son placed in a care home, denied responsibility for the infant's death.

Her lawyer, Linda Zaoui-Ifergan, insisted that she never took part in the mistreatment of the child.

"Not only did she love her son," the lawyer told the press. "But she is now being accused of being an accomplice in his death, which is not at all the case."

During the five years preceding the event, the family had been followed by social workers, who will also be heard at today's proceedings.

According to Yves Crespin, a lawyer for Enfant Bleu, a children's rights association, "The dangerous situation had been clearly identified."

Both Enfant Bleu and Enfance et partage, another children's rights association, will be joining a civil action at the proceedings.

The trial is expected to last until next Friday.

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