A French court sentenced a mother of five to a year behind bars for slapping one of her children’s teachers in the face, prosecutors said Wednesday, confirming a penalty seen as unusually harsh.
The court in the central town of Roanne went beyond the state’s recommendations in sentencing Elizabeta Elmaz for smacking the principal of her child’s primary school several times and pulling her hair in front of other children, parents and teachers.
The public prosecutor had called for Elmaz, an ethnic Roma woman from Kosovo, to be given a six-month custodial sentence.
Her lawyer Hugues Roumeau called the sentence “absurd” and accused the court of bowing to pressure from dozens of teachers who demonstrated outside the courthouse over the attack to make an example of his client.
The incident took place in March 2017 at a school in the town of Mably, near Roanne.
On noticing a bump on her daughter’s head, the Elmaz lashed out at the teacher.
The teacher said she was “shocked” by the verdict.
“She didn’t expect that, she wanted the court to recognise the harm caused but not for a mother to be sent to prison,” the teacher’s lawyer told AFP.
On Tuesday evening, Elmaz, who was reported by the local Le Progres newspaper to be aged 28 and who is still breastfeeding her youngest child, was sent to prison on the outskirts of Saint-Etienne, about 90 kilometres (56 miles) from Mably.
In court she claimed she was acting in self-defence after being hit by the teacher — claims refuted by witnesses.
Her lawyer lambasted the court’s failure to supply her with a translator, forcing her husband to step in.
He did not say whether she would appeal.