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Roma baby to be buried in France as inquiry launched

A Roma baby is to be buried in a French cemetery later amid a row over the reported refusal by the mayor of a nearby town to grant her a grave.

The baby will be buried in Wissous, south of Paris, after the town of Champlan reportedly refused her burial.

On Sunday Champlan’s mayor denied this, but the case has sparked outrage.

The prime minister called it an “insult to France” and the French official in charge of defending human rights announced an inquiry.

The girl was born in mid-October and died on 26 December of sudden infant death syndrome.

The conservative mayor of Champlan, Christian Leclerc, was reported to have refused to bury her. He was quoted by Le Parisien newspaper as justifying the decision by saying that his town was running out of burial space and that “priority is given to those who pay local taxes”.

On Sunday he said his words had been “taken out of context”.

“At no stage was I opposed to this burial. It’s been blown out of proportion,” he told Agence France-Presse.

But Jacques Toubon, France’s Defender of Human Rights, said he was “shocked and stunned” and announced an inquiry.

Centre-left Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Twitter: “Refusing a child a burial because of its roots is an insult to its memory, an insult to France.”

The mayor of Wissous, Richard Trinquier, had said he was flummoxed by the reported refusal, and that he would offer a grave.

The presence of Roma people from Eastern Europe has been a fractious political issue in France.

It has one of the harshest policies in Europe towards Roma immigrants, regularly demolishing the camps that many of them live in, and deporting thousands every year.

The majority of France’s 20,000 Roma live in makeshift settlements.