Man held in France over rape of nine-year-old girl

By: AFP      Published: 12:46 AM, 23 Sep, 2020
Man held in France over rape of nine-year-old girl

French police have detained a man in connection with the rape of a nine-year-old girl abducted at the weekend while out to buy bread in her village, prosecutors said Tuesday.

The 31-year-old is also suspected of having assaulted a woman out jogging beforehand and raping a 74-year-old on Friday, they added.

The girl was found shortly after the attack Sunday and taken to hospital as police launched a massive manhunt for her assailant over a large swathe of western France.

She was picked up by a driver in a residential area of Villiers, which has fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, as she walked from the baker's, according to Michel Garandeaux, a prosecutor in the nearby city of Poitiers.

The driver is suspected of having put the girl in his car boot before taking her to a field nearby. 

Garandeaux told reporters that the man allegedly assaulted a woman out jogging just an hour or so before, trying to force her into his car. But she resisted and escaped.

She managed to get the car's licence plate number while the girl gave precise details of her assailant, he added.

On Monday, the 31-year-old suspect was detained in the car in Saumur, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Villiers, along with another man who was also in the vehicle.

Garandeaux said the other man did not appear to be linked to the assaults.

It also emerged that the suspect is wanted over another rape case on Friday, in which the victim was a 74-year-old woman near Saumur, said Eric Bouillard, another prosecutor.

He allegedly knocked at her door, and when she opened, attacked her and took her car, prosecutors said.

The car, recognised by police, is what led to his detention.

Bouillard said the suspect was released from jail last year for crimes that are not related to those he is currently suspected of. He only recognises having stolen the car.