French trial opens over brutal killing of transgender sex worker

Vanesa Campos was shot in the chest in the Paris' Bois de Boulogne back in 2018. After years of waiting, her alleged killer and two associates are now finally facing trial.

People march the streets of Paris, calling for justice for Vanesa Campos.
People march the streets of Paris, calling for justice for Vanesa Campos. The sex worker's alleged killers will now finally face trial in France. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

Three men went on trial in Paris on Tuesday over the killing of a transgender prostitute three years ago that drew widespread attention to rising violence against sex workers in France.

Vanesa Campos, a 36-year-old originally from Peru, was fatally shot in the chest on the night of August 16-17, 2018, in a remote section of the Bois de Boulogne, the vast forest park west of the capital that has long been a sex work zone once night falls.

Police quickly focused on a group of around a dozen men of Egyptian origin, who had staged what prosecutors called a “punitive expedition” against Campos and others who had denounced repeated robberies and assaults against sex worker and their clients by armed gangs.

Just a month before her death, Campos was among a group who hired a guard to protect them while working among dense trees with no public lighting.

The assailants were armed with tear gas, tree branches, a knife, a stun gun, and a pistol that had been stolen a week earlier from a police car while the officer was with a prostitute.

Mahmoud Kadri, 24, suspected of shooting Campos, and two associates appeared in court on murder charges and told their lawyers via translators that they “formally denied” the accusations.

Six other men, ages 23 to 34, are charged with participating in the murder — five for taking part in the assault, and a sixth for stealing the pistol.

Campos’ mother and sister, who live in Peru, are civil plaintiffs in the case along with six of her former colleagues, the bodyguard, the Acceptess-T transgender advocacy association and the Mouvement du Nid sex worker support group.

Acceptess-T in particular argues that increased violence against prostitutes stems from a 2016 law making it illegal to buy sex in France but not to sell it, shifting the criminal responsibility to clients who can be fined if caught.

While some groups say the law helps protect women from trafficking and exploitation by discouraging sex work, many working in the sector say it has made their jobs more dangerous and deprived them of income.

The trial is expected to run until January 28.

Member comments

  1. It is infuriating that a person is killed and the killers get to run free for four years before the state decides to try them!

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French police shoot dead knife-wielding man at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport

French Border police at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris shot - and killed - man who was wielding a knife in the public area of the airport on Wednesday.

French police shoot dead knife-wielding man at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport

Border police reportedly shot a man with aggressive behaviour who brandished a knife in the public area of the Charles de Gaulle airport outside of Paris, on Wednesday morning, police and airport sources told AFP.

“This morning officers neutralised a threatening individual in possession of a knife at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport,” the Paris police department said on its Twitter account.

A source close to the investigation told BFMTV that the man – who was likely homeless – went towards the officers, despite being asked several times to put the knife down. In response, police shot the man in the abdomen, and the individual later died.

The incident took place in the busy, public area of terminal 2F around 8:20 am, when “a homeless man started bothering security agents and border police were called in to remove him”.

Initially the man left while yelling curses but he soon returned and brought out a knife, when one of the officers fired his weapon.

An AFP photographer who witnessed the scene said “a large person of colour brandished something that looked like a knife at the police”.

“He was ordered to stop but kept advancing toward them, and an officer fired a single shot.”

The man was quickly put on a stretcher and evacuated, the photographer said. 

Security forces have been on high alert for terrorist attacks since a wave of jihadist killings that have killed more than 250 people since 2015, often by so-called “lone wolves” who often target police.