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France shocked by second schoolgirl rape and murder in a month

A photo shows sealed on the door of an abandoned house in the village of Birac-sur-Trec, southwestern France, on Nov 21, 2022, where a 14-year-old girl was found dead after being kidnapped outside her school in the city of Tonneins. (MEHDI FEDOUACH / AFP)

PARIS – France was shocked by the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in the south of the country, just weeks after the brutal killing of a 12-year-old girl in Paris.

Police on Friday arrested a 31-year-old man suspected of raping and killing the girl, named Vanesa, after forcing her into his car as she left school in Tonneins, France that day. He left the body in an abandoned house and was quickly identified through security camera footage, authorities said.

Authorities said the man was sentenced to a 15-day suspended jail term for sexual aggression towards another minor in 2006, when the suspect was just 15 years old

The prosecutor in Agen, southern France, told reporters on Saturday that when police went to arrest the man at his flat in the southern city of Marmande, he said, "I know why you are here" and confessed.

Authorities said the man was sentenced to a 15-day suspended jail term for sexual aggression towards another minor in 2006, when the suspect was just 15 years old.

The murder comes just weeks after France was rocked by the brutal killing of a 12-year-old girl named Lola, whose battered body was found in a suitcase outside her Paris home.

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The main suspect in that case, a 24-year-old woman, has been accused of murder, rape and acts of torture.

Lola's murder became a source of political tension, with opposition parties seizing on the profile of the suspect – an illegal immigrant – to call for tougher immigration policies. 

In both cases, the far-right opposition has criticized judicial and political authorities as being soft on crime and not doing enough to keep dangerous individuals off the streets.

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Dante Rinaudo, mayor of Tonneins, told reporters on Monday that the girl's parents, who are of Colombian origin, want to bury their daughter in Grenada, Spain, where the family had lived several years before moving to France.

He said he launched an online fundraiser to support the family and would organize a march for the victim on Friday.