France jails two people at 22 for the murder of a trans sex worker



PARIS — A French court on Saturday sentenced two Egyptian men to 22 years in prison for the murder of a transgender prostitute in a trial that highlighted rising violence against sex workers in France.

Vanesa Campos, a 36-year-old Peruvian, was killed by a bullet to the chest in August 2018 in the Bois de Boulogne, a sprawling wooded park west of Paris that had long been an area of ​​prostitution once at night fallen.

Police quickly zeroed in on a group of about 10 men of Egyptian descent, who had staged what prosecutors called a ‘punitive expedition’ against Campos and others who had reported robberies and assaults repeatedly against sex workers and their clients by armed gangs.

The Paris court found Mahmoud Kadri, 24, and Karim Ibrahim, 29, guilty of “gang murder”, charges they have repeatedly denied, blaming each other.

Earlier on Saturday, at the end of a trial which began on January 11, both expressed their grief for what had happened.

“I apologize for everything that happened. I’m so sorry,” the Arabic-speaking Kadri said through an interpreter, before bursting into tears.

Before deliberations began, Ibrahim told the court in French that he was “so sorry for all of this”.

The prosecution had recommended Thursday the sentencing of Kadri to 20 years in prison. He denied claims by his co-defendant that he shot and killed Campos on the night of August 16-17, 2018.

The prosecution recommended 15 years in prison for Ibrahim, charging him with complicity in murder.

Dangerous work

Just a month before his death, Campos was part of a group that hired a guard to protect them while working among dense trees with no street lights.

The attackers were armed with tear gas, tree branches, a knife, a stun gun and a pistol that had been stolen a week earlier from a police car while the officer was with a sex worker.

Six other men, aged 23 to 34, were also convicted.

One of them was sentenced to six years in prison for violence leading to involuntary death.

Four others were sentenced to up to six years in prison for participating in the attack.

The sixth was to be imprisoned for five years for stealing the gun.

Campos’ mother and sister, who live in Peru, are civil parties in the case along with six of his former colleagues, the bodyguard, the transgender advocacy association Acceptess-T and the prostitute support group Mouvement of the Nest.

Acceptess-T, in particular, argues that the increase in violence against sex workers stems from a 2016 law banning the buying of sex in France but not the selling of it, shifting criminal liability to customers who can be fined if caught.

While some groups say the law helps protect women from trafficking and exploitation by discouraging prostitution, many sex workers say it has made their work more dangerous and deprived them of income.


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