French farmer wins top court okay for aiding migrants

The French Constitutional Court on Friday sided with a farmer who was convicted last year over helping dozens of African migrants and refugees cross from Italy to France.

The nation's highest constitutional authority found that olive farmer Cedric Herrou could not be prosecuted for aiding migrants under the principle of fraternity, one of the three values that make up France's national motto: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

"The principle of fraternity confers the freedom to help others, for humanitarian purposes, regardless of the legality of their presence on national territory," the court wrote in its verdict.

Herrou, 38, became a national hero after a court handed him a four-month suspended jail sentence and a Euros 3,000 ($3,200) fine last year for having helped about 200 migrants cross the border into France from the Italian town of Ventimiglia.

Herrou has been hailed as a hero for housing the undocumented refugees in caravans on his hillside farm in the Roya valley in southeastern France over a period of two years.

His olive farm sits on the border with Italy, near a popular route for refugees entering France.

Following his conviction, Herrou was unapologetic for his actions, saying that he would continue to provide aid to migrants. "It is the role of a citizen in a democracy to act when there is a failure of the state," he said at the time.

Source: Anadolu Agency