French man accused of sexually abusing refugee boys remanded in custody

A 52-year-old French man accused of sexually abusing unaccompanied refugee boys that were in his care was remanded in custody on Thursday, after testifying before an examining magistrate in Thessaloniki. The French national, who had offered hospitality to four teenage boys from Pakistan, stands accused of drugging his victims and then sexually abusing while they were unconscious.

In his testimony to the magistrate, the suspect denied the charges against him and said the four boys made them up in revenge, because they objected to the rules he set in his home. He failed to convince the magistrate, however, who ordered that he be jailed until trial.

Police had earlier raided the French man’s home, acting on a complaint lodged by a non-governmental child welfare organisation on the basis of claims made by one of the boys in his care, later confirmed by the other three. They found the narcotic pills described by the boys and placed him under arrest.

The 52-year-old had volunteered to provide food and shelter for the boys via an acquaintance working in a refugee hospitality centre in the Thessaloniki area. He had originally contacted the NGO that filed the complaint against him to request legal assistance to find the boys residence documents. As part of the process, they were interviewed by a child psychologist who found they did not want to return to his home and reported that he was giving them drugs that made them fall into a stupor.

The suspect has been charged with repeated counts of sexual abuse against minors and drug dealing aggravated by the provision of drugs to minors. The second charge, in particular, carries a potential sentence of life imprisonment.