France

French mayor refuses to bury dead Roma baby

The municipality of Essonne, located 15km from Paris, celebrates European Night at the Museum, 18th May 2014
The municipality of Essonne, located 15km from Paris, celebrates European Night at the Museum, 18th May 2014 Wikipedia/GIRAUD Patrick

The decision by a French right-wing mayor not to bury a dead Roma baby, sparked outcry among rights groups on Saturday. The baby who died the day after Christmas, was denied burial in the town of Champlan, 15 km from Paris, and will now be laid to rest in neighbouring Wissous.

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"It's blatant racism," rights groups blasted on Saturday, in reaction to the mayor's refusal to bury a Roma baby in his town of Champlan in the French department of Essonne.

Christian Leclerc, who represents several right wing parties, gave no explanation for his decision to deny two-month old Maria Francesca, burial.

But according to a local town councillor, Leclerc claimed that the baby's death had been declared in a different town, that of Corbeil-Essonnes.

False, says Loïc Gandais, President of the Association of Solidarity with Roma families in Essonne (ASEFRR). For him Leclerc's decision constitutes "racism and zenophobia," he told AFP.

Maria Francesca died from sudden infant death syndrome on 26 December, the day after Christmas.

She is now set to be buried in Wissous, 7 km from Champlan, on Monday. The mayor of Wissous, Richard Trinquier, said on Saturday his decision was motivated out of "humanity." The baby's family has decided not to press charges.

Roughly thirty families from the Roma community currently occupy a camp in the town of Champlan, without running water, electricity or wastage facilities.

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