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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 July, 2004, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
'Swastika attack' woman repents
Desecrated tombstones in Herrlisheim, France
The story of assault followed a rise in anti-Semitic attacks
A French woman who confessed to fabricating a story about being the victim of an anti-Semitic assault has begged forgiveness for her claims.

In a televised statement, the 23-year-old mother said she was sorry for all the trouble her allegations had caused.

Her story of swastikas being daubed on her body during a brutal attack on a Paris train caused outrage in France.

"I regret this act and beg forgiveness from all those I deceived and hurt," the woman, known as Marie-Leonie, said.

"I apologise to the president of the republic... to all those people who showed me support after my lie," she said in a statement broadcast on Saturday.

Imaginary crime

Hours after the attack was first reported, French President Jacques Chirac expressed his horror and called for the perpetrators to be punished.

Political and community leaders followed suit and there were even demonstrations held in Marie-Leonie's support.

Now she is due to stand trial on July 26 on charges of "reporting an imaginary crime".

She could face up to six months in jail for her story of being attacked with her 13-month-old child by a gang of North Africans on a Paris suburban train.

The woman, who is not Jewish, admitted to lying after police uncovered inconsistencies in her story.

Her claims came just days after Mr Chirac announced plans to crack down on a rising number of racist and anti-Semitic attacks.

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14 Jul 04  |  Europe
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13 Jul 04  |  Europe
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11 Jul 04  |  Europe
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16 Jul 04  |  Europe

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