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Sarkozy wants halt to pedophile releases

PARIS – French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Monday for a halt to early prison release for some pedophiles after a 5-year-old boy was allegedly raped by a repeat sex offender who had been prescribed Viagra while behind bars.

The boy was kidnapped from his home in the northern town of Roubaix on Wednesday and allegedly molested by convicted pedophile Francis Evrard. The 61-year-old, convicted three times, was released from prison in July.

Sarkozy, on his first day back from a two-week vacation in the United States, drew attention to the case Monday by hosting the boy’s father and meeting with ministers about amending prison laws to prevent early release for some convicted pedophiles.

Sarkozy said the French were “very shocked” at the case and expressed his own anger.

“Everything must be put in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he told reporters.

“What happened? A person who over his career committed several rapes of minors was sentenced to 27 years in prison – he served 18,” said Sarkozy, referring to Evrard. “I don’t understand why.”

Working off a new kidnapping alert system that quickly went into effect, authorities found Evrard and the boy in a Roubaix garage about 12 hours after the child went missing, officials said.

Police and prison officials in the Normandy city of Caen, where Evrard served his sentence, said a prison doctor had acknowledged prescribing him Viagra a month before his release, but that the doctor did not know why he was behind bars.

The doctor turned himself in to Caen police Sunday and was being held for questioning, the officials said.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

Evrard faces preliminary charges related to the kidnap and rape of a minor.

France’s justice minister said Sunday that a judicial investigation had been opened into how Evrard had obtained the erectile dysfunction drug.

Sarkozy said sex offenders who could still be considered dangerous should not benefit from early release.

After his meeting with several top ministers, the president said he had asked Justice Minister Rachida Dati to include a measure preventing early release of some pedophiles in a set of prison laws to be presented in parliament in November.

Sarkozy also said the new bill should include funds for the construction of prison hospitals where sex offenders such as Evrard could be held. Panels of medical experts would examine how dangerous outgoing sex offenders were before they would be granted release.

The conservative Sarkozy, a former interior minister, has made cracking down on repeat offenders a priority since taking office in May.