France refuses return to deported Romani girl, she threatens suicide
A French court has refused to grant a residence permit to the parents of Leonarda Dibrani, a Romani girl from Kosovo who was deported from France last year under scandalous circumstances. Wire services reported at the end of January that the teenager has responded to the court's decision by threatening to commit suicide.
The case sparked great emotion in France last year, causing problems for French President François Hollande. Police officers in the village of Pontarlier near the town of Besançon pulled 15-year-old Leonarda off of a bus during a field trip last October in front of her shocked fellow students and teachers.
That same day she and the rest of her family, whose asylum requests had been rejected, were deported to the northern city of Kosovska Mitrovica in Kosovo. The family, who have seven children aged between one and 23 years of age, came to France illegally in 2009.
"This is not fair. I will kill myself, because we have no life here [in Kosovo]. My home country is France, we are dying of hunger here. The attorney is telling us not to lose hope because we have the right to appeal, but I no longer believe in justice," Leonarda told Agence France-Presse.
An administrative court in the eastern French town of Besançon concluded that the Dibrani family did not demonstrate the will to join French society during their time in France and that they are able to live in Kosovo. Officials say the children did not regularly attend school and that the couple lived a closed life, coming out into society only to seek various kinds of aid; in the ruling, the judge claimed that the husband of the family in particular reportedly made no effort to work and that the wife never learned French.
President Hollande became a target of criticism from both the left and the right last year when he offered to permit Leonarda to return to France on her own, without the rest of her family. Most French people were against the Romani family returning to France according to public opinion surveys performed at the end of last year.
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