Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009

Jilted man jailed for fire attack

Chahrazad Belayni
Chahrazad Belayni suffered horrific burns in the attack

A Pakistani man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison by a French court for setting fire to an ex-girlfriend who had refused to marry him.

Amer Mushtaq Butt doused the woman with petrol and set her alight as she was leaving her home in a Paris suburb.

Chahrazad Belayni, a 21-year-old Moroccan-born woman, suffered third-degree burns to 60% of her body.

The case has highlighted violence against women in poor urban communities with large Muslim populations.

Several operations

Ms Belayni broke down in tears after the sentence was announced in court late on Thursday.

"It sets a good example. For women who are victims of violence, I think 20 years is a good step," she said.

Prosecutor Camille Palluel said Butt had meticulously planned his attack "to end the life" of his former girlfriend in an attempt "to restore his honour".

Butt set fire to Ms Belayni in the street in the impoverished Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Marne in 2005 after she ended their relationship.

Ms Belayni told the court how she threw herself to the ground and tried to extinguish the flames. She fell into a coma after the attack and has since undergone several operations.

Butt fled France for Pakistan after the attack but later returned to hand himself in. He pleaded guilty at his three-day trial, claiming it was a crime of passion.

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