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France begins trial of 66 accused in child sex ring

[JURIST] One of France's biggest-ever criminal trials [France 2 video report; in French] got under way Thursday as sixty-six people led by two former sex offenders stood accused of participating in a pedophilia ring in which children and babies were prostituted for food and small sums of money. All of the accused come from the poorest and least educated sections of society. In a 420-page legal filing state prosecutors contend that dozens of children, from the age of six months to fourteen years, were raped by their parents and offered to other adults for sex. Some of the 45 victims are expected to testify in the trial by closed-circuit television. None of the children will appear in court. Defense lawyers plan to argue that government social workers monitoring many of the suspects failed in their responsibilities to see any signs of abuse and that some of the defendants are illiterate and do not understand the charges against them. If convicted, thirty-nine people could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of raping minors under age 15 and on prostitution charges. The others face up ten years in prison if convicted of sexual violence against minors and failure to denounce crimes. AP has more. From Paris, Le Figaro provides local coverage in French.

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