Two military-aged Sudanese men, both of whom are suspected of having gang raped a woman on the streets of Nantes over the weekend, are in police custody after they were arrested by French authorities on Monday evening.
The victim, a forty-year-old woman, had been returning home on foot at around 5:30 am on Saturday after spending an evening at her friend’s apartment, when she came upon a group of men near the city center of Nantes who, according to her accounts, accosted her, initially in an attempt to steal her belongings, punched her in the face, threw her to the ground, tore at her clothes, and forced her into a nearby grove where they raped her, CNEWs reports.
Authorities, after being informed of the assault by local residents who had heard the cries of the victim, arrived at the scene shortly thereafter to find three men, one of whom hurled a stone at the head of one of the arresting officers, injuring him in the process. The three men then attempted to flee before being caught and arrested by police.
Emergency services, meanwhile, provided aid to the victim at the scene before transferring her to the local hospital where she was admitted. Subsequently, she was prescribed 10 days of temporary work disability (ITT) by the doctor.
The victim, according to prosecutor Renaud Gaudeul, showed “traces of violence on the entire body, from the lower limbs to the head, passing through the upper limbs.”
Two of the suspects, both originally from Sudan but who arrived in France in 2018, were indicted on Monday afternoon by a magistrate from the criminal division. They have been placed in pre-trial detention in accordance with the demands of the prosecution, and risk up to 20 years in prison.
The third suspect, also a foreigner, despite having been cleared of rape charges, was sentenced to four months in prison for resisting authorities with a weapon—a sentence which he will carry out at home, with an electronic bracelet monitor.
Christelle Morançais, a Les Republicains (LR) politician who serves as the Regional Council President for the Pays de la Loire region, reacted to the attack with dismay, writing on Twitter: “Absolute nightmare in the heart of Nantes! A drama which, unfortunately, is becoming commonplace. Can you still feel safe in Nantes when you are a woman?”
Police officer Matthieu Valet, who serves as a spokesman for the Independent Union of Police Commissioners (SICP), also responded to the attack on social media, writing: “Thank the country that welcomes them by raping a woman in the middle of the street in Nantes. A lady, hearing cries, calls the police. The police put an end to the ordeal of the victim and arrested 2 Sudanese. Those who defile the country and make victims must be expelled.”
The alleged rape comes amid a rapidly deteriorating security situation in the city of Nantes. Speaking of the city’s degenerating condition, Olivia Delezinier, a restaurant owner in the Bouffay district in Nantes, told French media that she’s been forced to equip her staff with pocket tear gas canisters and portable alarm systems after they were attacked three times between September 13th-15th.
“There is complete denial at the level of the municipality,” Delezinier said, before inviting Mayor Johanna Rolland (PS) to visit her restaurant so she can witness for herself the daily insecurity faced by ordinary citizens and business owners.