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French hunter convicted for killing British man he mistook for boar

A French hunter who shot dead a British man he mistook for a wild boar got a two-year suspended sentence on Thursday, days after the government outlined tighter rules for the sport.

French hunter convicted for killing British man he mistook for boar
A friend holds a portrait of Morgan Keane during a march, a year after he was killed by a hunter, in Cajarc, southwestern France (Photo by Valentine CHAPUIS / AFP)

As well as banning the shooter from hunting for life, the court in southwestern town Cahors gave the hunt leader an 18-month  suspended sentence and a five-year ban.

The death of 25-year-old Morgan Keane – a longtime resident of France who had dual French and British nationality – caused outrage in 2020 when he was shot while cutting wood near his house in the village of Calvignac.

“There isn’t a day I don’t think about it, it’s marked me for life. I’m sorry,” the shooter told the court at the November opening of his trial for involuntary manslaughter, admitting that he had not “identified the target”.

The case revived tensions between anti-hunting activists and defenders of a rural hobby and practice that is seen as necessary by farmers to keep down deer and boar populations in particular.

During the busy times of the hunting season, large parts of the French countryside reverberate with the sound of gunshots, leading many walkers to avoid forested areas for their own safety.

READ MORE: Alcohol limits, training days and an app: How France plans to make hunting safer

On Monday, President Emmanuel Macron’s government said it would tighten rules against hunting under the influence of drugs or alcohol, strengthen training and safety requirements and set up digital systems to warn other countryside users away from active hunting zones.

Punishments will also be upgraded, including hunters losing their licences if they are involved in a serious accident.

But ministers stopped short of implementing a popular proposal to ban hunting altogether on Sundays, fearing backlash from the influential hunting lobby.

Statistics show hunting accidents have been on the decline in France over the past 20 years.

But cases of injury or even death from stray bullets remain highly emotive and are often widely covered by the media.

Willy Schraen, the head of the influential FNC hunting lobby, said last week he couldn’t imagine hunting-free Sundays “for a single second”.

He has claimed there would be uproar in rural areas if there were a ban.

There are 1.1 million active hunters in France, according to the FNC, and some five million people possess a hunting licence.

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CRIME

Far-right extremist arrested over suspected Paris Olympics plot

A far-right extremist has been arrested in France on suspicions he was preparing attacks during the Paris Olympics that open next week, a security source told AFP on Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

Far-right extremist arrested over suspected Paris Olympics plot

The 18-year-old suspected neo-Nazi was the administrator of a group on the Telegram phone application called “French Aryan division” where he made threats against the Paris Olympics (to take place from July 26th to August 11th), the source said.

He was detained in the eastern Bas-Rhin region, which includes the city of Strasbourg, and was being questioned by anti-terror police.

French security services are on high alert ahead of the Paris Games when around 10 million visitors and 10,000 athletes are expected in the French capital.

In May, they arrested a Chechen teenager suspected of plotting an “Islamist-inspired” attack on an Olympics football game in the southeastern city of Saint-Etienne.

Le Parisien newspaper, which first reported the arrest of the far-right suspect on Wednesday, said the young man had followers on Telegram who were prepared to mount attacks and had threatened violence against a Paris-based drag queen who took part in the Olympic torch rally at the weekend.

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