India orders trial of French consular official over alleged child rape

BANGALORE, India (AFP) - An Indian judge has ordered a French consular official to stand trial over accusations he raped his three-year-old daughter.

The order on Monday came after the accused, Pascal Mazurier, asked the court to discharge him for lack of evidence over allegations he raped his daughter in the case, which has dragged on for two-and-a-half-years.

Sessions Court judge Shubha Gowdar ruled that there was sufficient evidence for Mazurier to face trial, the public prosecutor told AFP on Tuesday.

Judge Gowdar ordered that a hearing be held January 24 to formally frame charges against Mazurier, the public prosecutor said.

"I am deeply disappointed with the order," Mazurier told AFP in the southern city of Bangalore where the case is being heard. The order for him to stand trial was passed by a special court set up to deal with offences against children.

"I will seek justice in a higher court," Mazurier added, without elaborating.

Mazurier was arrested in June 2012 on a complaint filed by his wife and spent four months in jail before being released on bail.

His lawyers had argued in front of the Bangalore court that there was "no need for a trial since the investigation so far did not prove his involvement in the offence".

Lawyers for Mazurier had told the Sessions Court that DNA samples proved that their client was innocent of any crime. The lawyer for the defence, S. Mahesh, had said the DNA test of the father and the child did not match.

"We, however, argued there is a prima facie case against the accused to prove his involvement," Special Public Prosecutor B.T. Venkatesh told AFP.

"Our contention was that the allegations of sexual assault and sodomy were over a period of time and the DNA report was inconsequential," Mr Venkatesh said.

Bangalore's Family Court earlier rejected a request for Mazurier to have access to his children as he is accused of raping one of them.

The mother and women's rights groups have accused France of supporting the husband at the expense of the interests of the alleged victim and her two siblings, who are all French nationals.

France's foreign ministry has declined to comment on whether it is paying the husband's legal bills.

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