Killers of French and Italian men sentenced

A Madagascar court handed four men the maximum sentence on Friday of hard labour for life over the mob lynching in 2013 of two Europeans and a local man, who were beaten and then burned on a beach.

Killers of French and Italian men sentenced
One of the accused hiding his face is rushed out by a marshall in Antananarivo, during the trial of 37 people accused of murder of two Europeans. Photo: Rijaso/AFP

A Madagascar court handed four men the maximum sentence Friday of hard labour for life over the mob lynching in 2013 of two Europeans and a local man, who were beaten and then burned on a beach.

The sentencing came as the court tried 37 people over the October 2013 murders, which were committed by a mob acting on false rumours of foreign involvement in the death of an eight-year old local boy and a paedophilia connection.

Among them, 25 suspects were given the benefit of the doubt and released, while another was formally acquitted.

One was sentenced to seven years of hard labour, while the rest were handed prison sentences ranging from three months to six years.

On the morning of October 3, 2013, French tourist Sebastien Judalet and Franco-Italian resident Roberto Gianfalla were attacked and brutally killed by a mob.

Hours later, the uncle of the eight-year-old boy whose death sparked the attack on Nosy Be — the idyllic Indian Ocean island off Madagascar — was also murdered.

Friday's sentencing came a day after Attorney general Jean de Dieudonne Andrianaivoson had asked for the maximum sentence for 12 of those on trial for murder and kidnapping.

He also asked the court for leniency for the other 25 suspects, including two policemen on trial for failing to assist people in danger.

One of the two officers was among those released Friday; the other has been sentenced to six months.

Most of the defendants had pleaded not guilty during the trial.

After a photograph of the brutal incident was shown in court, one of the four men sentenced to hard labour for life admitted he was “among those burning the vazahas,” using the Malagasy word for Westerners.

Fellow defendant Marcellin Tomboravo, who was sentenced to seven years of hard labour, admitted he transported one of the two murdered Europeans in his cart. His lawyer had appealed for his client's acquittal, arguing he had no choice but to obey the violent crowd.

Both the defence and prosecution teams had meanwhile said local officials should have also been probed.

Several videos of the tragedy were shown during the trial. One showed Judalet, 38, lying on the beach. A man strikes his head using a wooden stick, and with the last blow, his executioner says: “Goodbye, world.”

Gianfalla, a Franco-Italian who lived in Madagascar, was a 50-year-old cook.

Judalet, who worked as a bus driver and had been in Madagascar several times on holiday, has been cleared of all suspicions of paedophilia by French police.

There has been no evidence to date that any of the victims of the mob lynching either killed or abused the child.

The circumstances of the boy's killing have never been clarified, nor has anyone been tried for his death.

The issue of paedophilia is particularly sensitive in Madagascar where extreme poverty has led to a spike in child prostitution.

The UN in 2013 denounced what it described as the normalisation of child prostitution in Madagascar.


Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome’s Trevi Fountain

With the return of tourism and scorching temperatures, Rome’s fountains are once again attracting visitors hoping to cool off with a midnight swim.

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome's Trevi Fountain

In the latest incident, a 26-year-old Spanish man was fined 450 euros after taking a dip in the Trevi Fountain in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Rome’s city police apprehended and fined the man after he was spotted swimming in the 18th-century monument at around 5am, according to local media reports.

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Every summer, hapless foreign visitors face fines of hundreds of euros after falling foul of Rome’s strict ban on taking a dip in public fountains – with the city mayor warning tourists that the centuries-old Baroque monuments are “not swimming pools”.

In April, two Dutch tourists also faced fines totalling over €1,000 after their own ill-advised splash in the Trevi Fountain.

The Roman landmark is one of the city’s main magnets for badly-behaved visitors, but tourists have also been fined after cooling off in the Santa Maria fountain in Trastevere, believed to be the city’s oldest. 

Since 2018, anyone caught misbehaving at Rome’s monuments can also face a temporary ‘Daspo’ ban from the area – similar to an ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) in the UK – which allows city police to restrict the movement of people they deem a threat to public order.

READ ALSO: From selfie brawls to midnight swims: Tourists behaving badly at the Trevi Fountain

But a plan to erect a one-metre-high glass and steel barrier around the Trevi fountain to protect it from unruly visitors now appears to have been abandoned after arts and heritage experts called the idea “foolish”.

Fines for swimming in the fountains have been in place since 2015, but this hasn’t stopped determined visitors from recreating scenes from La Dolce Vita and even some locals from taking a dip – – with or without their clothes.

Swimming in the wrong place is just one of the offences regularly committed by visitors, with graffiti and vandalism a common problem at many of Italy’s famous monuments.

READ ALSO: 15 strange ways to get into trouble on holiday in Italy

In Rome alone, this year tourists have made headlines for everything from breaking into the Colosseum to enjoy a drink with a view to driving a car down the Spanish Steps.

Other Italian tourism hotspots, including Florence and Venice, also have varying local rules in place aimed at curbing rowdy behaviour.