France: Court sentences illegal Sudanese migrant who murdered his ex-partner, a medical student and pro-migrant activist

By Robert
4 Min Read

A French court has sentenced an illegal migrant from Sudan to two decades of imprisonment after finding him guilty of murdering his ex-girlfriend — a 27-year-old medical student and pro-migrant activist.

Following just three hours of deliberation last week, the court sentenced Rifat Abbas, a 34-year-old Sudanese illegal immigrant, to 20 years in prison after finding him guilty of stabbing his ex-girlfriend, Audrey Coignard, to death in a fit of rage back in September 2019 in the crime-ridden Parisian suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, Le Figaro reports.

The 27-year-old victim, a medical student who was very interested in helping migrants, is thought to have first met the Sudanese man at the Jean-Verdier hospital in Bond. Sometime after that, she established a relationship with him and the two began dating. Despite breaking up with him some months before the tragedy, she continued to host him at her home. The night she asked him for the keys to her place was the night her life ended.

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“Mr. Abbas did not kill her because he loved her. He killed her because he was losing his position,” said the court’s magistrate, Bertrand Macle, who requested that the defendant be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

“The help she gave [to migrants] often turned into friendships, and we respected her for that,” testified one of the migrants whom the victim had assisted, adding: “She brought good to others, and she did not see why we would hurt her.”

During the trial, the father of the victim, a former farmer, lauded his daughter’s “physical and mental strength” and her “passionate” character. She was the kind of person “who had confidence in people and did not want to give in to fear of the unknown,” the victim’s older sister told the court. 

The defendant’s lawyer, for her part, urged the court to judge her client based on his “miserable” life and the mental and physical trauma that he endured during his migratory journey through Libya, where he claims to have been tortured. Just because “she was an angel does not make him the devil,” Abbas’ lawyer said.

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Although the defendant claimed to barely remember the murder, he did at one point admit to having “stabbed” the victim to “silence her.”

“I was afraid the neighbors would hear and the police would come,” Abbas claimed.

The murder is not exactly unique, as there are a number of high-profile cases involving those who helped migrants only to become targets. The guilty verdict comes just days after another Sudanese migrant stabbed to death a receptionist who worked a shelter for migrants and asylum seekers in Nogent-sur-Oise, a commune in the French department of Oise, in the north of France.

In 2020, an Afghan migrant living in France bludgeoned the director of an organization for asylum seekers while he slept.

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