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French journalists Bouvier and Daniels arrive in France after Homs ordeal

media Edith Bouvier is taken off the plane at Villacoublay airfield near Paris Reuters/Charles Platiau

French journalists Edith Bouvier and William Daniels were flown into France on Friday evening after being trapped in the Syrian city of Homs for over a week. President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed their courage when he met them at the Villacoublay former military airfield.

A smiling Bouvier, who was wounded in the leg in an attack that killed her colleagues Marie Colvin and Rémi Olchik, was taken off the plane on a stretcher and transferred to a military hospital on the outskirts of Paris.

While trapped in Homs, she made a video appeal to be allowed to leave the city, saying that doctors there could not operate on her.

Daniels, the photographer who was working with her and had refused to leave with two reporters who had left earlier, raised a fist in a sign of victory before being met by Sarkozy.

The president, who on Tuesday prematurely announced that the pair had left Syria and then retracted the statement, described his attitude as “almost chivalrous” and paid tribute to Bouvier’s “courage”.

“The Syrian authorities will have to answer to international legal institutions for their crimes,” he declared. “The crimes they have committed will not go unpunished.”

Doctors examined Bouvier when the pair arrived in Beirut on Thursday and French Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppé told reporters that she was “in good health despite the break” in her leg.

Paris prosecutors have opened an inquiry into the “attempted murder” of Bouvier and the “murder” of Rémi Olchik, the French photographer killed in the Homs attack.

The bodies of Olchik and Colvin have been found and are being taken to Damascus, accorring to the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

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