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In France, Ex-Warden Jailed For Affair With Infamous 'Femme Fatale' Inmate

Florent Goncalves was running the Versailles prison where Emma Arbabzadeh, a 17-year-old who had lured the Jewish victim of a high-profile hate crime, was an inmate. The warden and prisoner fell in love. Now he'll be serving time of his own.



PARIS -- Former prison warden Florent Goncalves was sentenced to one year in jail for having an affair with an inmate, Emma Arbabzadeh, who had been the teenage bait from an infamous anti-Semitic gang murder.

Arbabzadeh, who was recently released on parole from her previous sentence, was given four months of jail time.

The 42-year-old Goncalves, who had been dismissed from the French penitentiary administration in June, will also have to pay a 10,000-euro fine and has been banned from all civil service positions.

Goncalves "feels hurt, misunderstood, he is still lovesick," said his lawyer, Pascal Garbarini. "Obviously he knows he did wrong but he has a hard time explaining his mistake because it is laced with love."

The affair began in 2009 in the Versailles women's penitentiary. During the trial, the defendants admitted to having sex inside the prison. The former warden said he was in love but denied giving preferential treatment to his lover. He also said he didn't feel like he'd been manipulated.

Arbabzadeh is infamous for luring a 23-year-old Jewish man Ilan Halimi into a deadly trap in January 2006. The young man died after three weeks of torture by the so-called "Gang of Barbarians." Arbabzadeh was sentenced to nine years in prison for her role in the anti-Semitic crime.

Link to an earlier LE MONDE/Worldcrunch article about the case

Photo - Stephane333

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A Naturalist's Defense Of The Modern Zoo

Zoos are often associated with animal cruelty, or at the very least a general animal unhappiness. But on everything from research to education to biodiversity, there is a case to be made for the modern zoo.

Photograph of a brown monkey holding onto a wired fence

A brown monkey hangs off of mesh wire

Marina Chocobar/Pexels
Fran Sánchez Becerril


MADRID — Zoos — or at least something resembling the traditional idea of a zoo — date back to ancient Mesopotamia. It was around 3,500 BC when Babylonian kings housed wild animals such as lions and birds of prey in beautiful structures known as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Ancient China also played a significant role in the history of zoos when the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) created several parks which hosted an assortment of animals.

In Europe, it wouldn't be until 1664 when Louis XIV inaugurated the royal menagerie at Versailles. All these spaces shared the mission of showcasing the wealth and power of the ruler, or simply served as decorations. Furthermore, none of them were open to the general public; only a few fortunate individuals, usually the upper classes, had access.

The first modern zoo, conceived for educational purposes in Vienna, opened in 1765. Over time, the educational mission has become more prominent, as the exhibition of exotic animals has been complemented with scientific studies, conservation and the protection of threatened species.

For decades, zoos have been places of leisure, wonder, and discovery for both the young and the old. Despite their past success, in recent years, society's view of zoos has been changing due to increased awareness of animal welfare, shifting sensibilities and the possibility of learning about wild animals through screens. So, many people wonder: What is the purpose of a zoo in the 21st century?

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