Wednesday 13 December 2017

Ex-jail chief 'fell in love' with prisoner

John Lichfield in Paris

A YOUNG, reforming prison governor appeared in a Paris court yesterday accused of giving special treatment to an infamous female prisoner who he "fell in love" with.

Florent Goncalves faces a three-year sentence for presenting Emma Arbabzadeh (23) with love letters and gifts.

Arbabzadeh was jailed in 2008 for acting as the "bait", at the age of 17, for the kidnap, torture and murder of a young Jewish businessman by a youth gang called "The Barbarians".

The ex-lovers, who had sex in the jail computer room, sat side-by-side in the dock in Versailles but scarcely looked at one another. The couple tried to renew their relationship when the young woman left prison in September but soon split up.

Mr Goncalves (43) was the youngest jail chief in France, promoted from the ranks for his successful, liberal approach to prison reform.

Mr Goncalves, who has been dismissed from the prison service and has broken up with his wife, was accused of smuggling mobile-phone chips and money to his lover in prison. She was accused of receiving them.

In a book to be published today, Mr Goncalves said that "unlikely as it sounds, we genuinely fell in love with one another. It was quite sincere on both sides ... Despite all the suffering and damage that it caused, I have no regrets."

The public prosecutor, Naima Rudolf, said yesterday: "This is far from an ordinary boy-meets-girl story. He was the prison governor and she was an inmate."

According to Mr Goncalves's book, the couple fell in love while he was teaching Arbabzadeh to use the computer system at a semi-open men and women's prison in Versailles.

He said that they twice had sex in the prison computer room before other inmates blew the whistle to the authorities.

The court yesterday adjourned judgement and sentence. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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