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French mayor denies refusing burial of Roma baby amid uproar

media A Roma camp in France. AFP PHOTO JACK GUEZ

The mayor of Champlan near Paris denied having refused to bury a Roma baby in the town’s cemetery amid strong controversy and after Prime Minister Manuel Valls condemned this decision as an “insult as to what France represents” on Sunday.

Earlier in the day the French human rights Defender Jacques Toubon said he was “devastated” by this case and announced he may take action.

The right-wing mayor of Champlan Christian Leclerc denied on several media outlets on Sunday that he had refused to bury in the town's cemetery a two-and-a-half months’ old Roma baby girl who died on 26 December.

He had reportedly explained his refusal on the grounds that the cemetery had "few available plots", according to the daily Le Parisien.

“Priority is given to those who pay their local taxes," Leclerc was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

This decision sparked outcry among human rights groups and among politicians.

The Secretary of State for Family Laurence Neuville said Saturday that this was an “inhuman humiliation” while Prime Minister Manuel Valls wrote Sunday on Twitter: “Refusing burial to a child because of his origin: an insult to his memory, an insult as to what France represents”.

Maria Francesca died from sudden infant death syndrome on 26 December and will be buried in Wissous a few kilometres from Champlan on Monday.

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