France flying 700 Roma home with the lure of cash
FRANCE yesterday flew out the first 93 of around 700 Roma it has pledged to "return" to their country of origin this month.
But EU free movement rules mean they can legally come back today.
The French government insists nobody has been "expelled or deported" and all agreed to return to Romania in exchange for "€300 per adult and €100 per child".
Rights groups have challenged the claim. Critics believe President Nicolas Sarkozy is trying to divert attention from his low approval ratings and a political scandal involving France's richest woman, Liliane Bettencourt.
Pierre Grand, a critic of the president, likened the returns to "rafles", a term for the German Gestapo round-ups of the Second World War.
Last month, Mr Sarkozy pledged to dismantle dozens of illegal Roma camps after an attack by 400 Roma on a police station in the Loire.
France has given Roma "transitional" status, meaning their nationals require work permits and proof that they will not be a "burden" on welfare. (© Daily Telegraph, London)