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Lawyers for a French consular official charged with raping his daughter in India have been granted an audience at President Francois Hollande's official residence, in a move met with angry disbelief by the mother of the alleged victim.
Lawyers for Pascal Mazurier, who claims he has been framed by his Indian wife, confirmed that they had met with aides to Hollande on Monday to discuss the case and their client's access to his three children, who are all French nationals and live with their mother.
Mazurier was charged last June with the rape of his three-year-old daughter and imprisoned for four months. He was released on bail in October but continues to face the rape charge and has been forced to surrender his passport.
His wife, Suja Jones Mazurier, 37, told AFP the audience at the Elysee Palace was symptomatic of her husband's ability to portray the case against him as being the result of family breakdown and depict himself as a victim of a miscarriage of justice.
"I find it really quite shocking that officials working for the president of France should be prepared to have a meeting with the lawyers of someone who has been charged with such a serious crime," she said in a telephone interview from her home in Bangalore.
"Can you imagine if we were in France? Would there not be an outcry if lawyers working for someone accused of raping a three-year-old girl went to the president and asked him to intervene in a criminal case?"
Pascal Mazurier's lawyers meanwhile said they would be bringing defamation charges against his wife in France, on the basis of her alleged fabrication of evidence in the case.
"There is now one thing that is certain: the fabrication and manipulation of evidence by Suja Jones," the lawyers, Pierre-Olivier Sur and Clemence Witt, told AFP.
That the little girl was raped by someone is not disputed.
A medical report submitted to the Indian police by the Baptist Hospital in Bangalore on June 13, 2012, states that she had abrasions and lacerations "consistent with a penetrative sexual assault on the vagina and anus."
The report, which has been seen by AFP, was signed by a consultant gynecologist and six other doctors. It also notes the presence of sperm.
Pascal Mazurier's lawyers say DNA tests have proved that the sperm was not the father's.
Suja Jones and her legal team believe the DNA evidence may have been tampered with. They argue that the case against her husband is also supported by evidence provided by child abuse experts who interviewed the girl and have concluded that she had been abused over an extended period.
Suja Jones told AFP her husband was not being granted access to their children because of concern for their physical safety and psychological welfare.
She accuses him of having left her with no means to support herself or her children by transferring large amounts of money out of their joint accounts while he was in prison, with the help of officials from the consulate in Bangalore.
Her lawyers say the consulate has provided a completely inappropriate degree of support for their employee and ignored the interests and needs of his children, who are equally entitled to consular support.
In a detailed letter of complaint that has been sent to Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, they accuse the deputy consul in Bangalore of effectively trying to intimidate officials in the Indian court system and expert witnesses in the case.