Eleven years after being kidnapped by her mother in Carqueiranne, Camille Chauvet was found in Switzerland thanks to a banal road check to which her mother had to submit. In all these years, Alain Chauvet has multiplied the legal proceedings against his partner and his ex-in-laws in order to have a sign of life from his now 16-year-old daughter.
In the Var department, other cases that have always been linked to the separation of a couple have come to the fore against the background of kidnapping, or removal of children before specialists in judicial proceedings.
The Xavier Fortin affair: 11 years on the run from a father with his two sons
On December 29, 1998, in Adrets-en-Provence, Catherine Martin, 45, mother of two children, ages 6 and 7, saw them leave with their father Xavier Forti, 52, with whom she had been separated for a year. Educator, de Varoise obtained custody of Shahi’yéna and Okwari, who live in their mother’s house with their older brother Nicolas, born of a first marriage. At the end of the school holidays, their father does not bring them back. All three disappear into the wild, elusive for years.
For eleven years, Catherine Martin will struggle to find her children, who she imagines living a life of wandering – in circuses, she thinks – with a father fleeing the horrors of modern society. Despite searches by the police, or even by a private detective, the man is nowhere to be found. The man has no official residence, the children do not go to school, use false names and the trio enjoys complicity that allows them to remain in hiding for eleven years.
Xavier Fortin carries like a judicial ball on his long term with his two sons a child abduction conviction handed down in 2005.
Found in Ariège and tested in Draguignan in 2009
On January 30, 2009, Xavier Fortin was housed by the gendarmes in Ariège in a farm in the commune of Massat. These two sons Shani Yena and Okwari, aged 18 and 17 respectively, then work as seasonal workers in Corsica. Catherine Martin has lost children, they find (almost) adults. To them she is “the mother”.
But where have they disappeared for 11 years? Fortin’s father and son crossed the Gers, the Ardèche, the Vaucluse, the Cevennes. They lived on the fringes of society, changed their identities four times, lived on community farms, loan houses, in encampments. A wild life.
Arrested, the father is locked up. Two months later, on March 17, 2009, tried before the Criminal Court of Draguignan, he was sentenced after 6 hours of deliberation to 2 years in prison, of which two months (which he served) for “child abduction”. At age 52, Xavier Fortin explained that he was acting “in the best interests of children”; the latter explained to the court that they had followed him of their own free will. Without wishing to aggravate the situation, Catherine Martin failed to appear at the hearing.
She was moved by the legal fate of the man who deprived him of his two sons for more than ten years: “I took a violent stab when he got out. You may wonder what message the magistrates sent to the people. So that one can depart eleven years by stealing his children from his husband, and come out after he is justified? You must put yourself in the shoes of all parents who are victims of parental kidnapping†
This story inspired the 2014 film directed by Cédric Khan, starring Mathieu Kassovitz in the role of the father. The screenplay is mainly written from the book Off system by Xavier Fortin.
Charlotte, child of the United States divorce at Adrets-de-l’estérel
On September 23, 2004, in Adrets-de-l’Estérel, an almost unreal scene shocked public opinion. The then prosecutor of Draguignan, assisted by representatives of the police, enters the kindergarten of Charlotte, a 3-year-old girl to pick her up.
They come to enforce a court order ordering the child’s return to the United States. But on the spot, they face a mobilization in the face of what they perceive to be violent action. The mother, her parents, but also the school staff and the villagers intervene.
They form a barrier around the child. the tone goes up, the insults and also the sudden gestures. An incredible scuffle ensues against the family and members of the police support committee. And the scene is being filmed by television crews.
The intrusion of the judiciary and police into a school has a deplorable effect. Public opinion is shocked and incumbent Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin will regret the intervention under such circumstances.
That day, the prosecutor, surrounded by the police, had to return. The Charlotte affair was then the subject of much media attention for a whole year, against a background of rifts between a man and a woman, between the United States and France, each arguing over custody of the child.
A love story that ends badly, with a little girl “taken hostage”. When the Var village takes on the case to support the mother, across the Atlantic, Father David Washington charges a kidnapping.
In March 2003, Charlotte’s mother Sophie Mamousseau pretended to be on vacation in France with her daughter in the United States. At the end of the month, she informs the father that she will not return. The young woman would then be subject to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, which had been stipulated in July 2004 that she would commit a criminal offense if she continued to refuse to return her daughter to the United States.
On December 3, 2004, the Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeals ordered that Charlotte be handed over to her father. The next day, the little girl left the French territory for the United States. The outcome of this case was subsequently kept away from television cameras and the media in general.
Alessia and Livia, the missing twins since 2011
Their names are Alessia and Livia and they have not been found since January 30, 2011. These two twins were 6 years old when they disappeared from the town of Saint-Sulpice in Switzerland with their father Matthias Schepp. This 43-year-old French engineer, separated from his wife Irina, committed suicide five days after being kidnapped in Italy without his two children ever being found.
What do we know about the journey of this 40-year-old who kidnapped his two daughters more than 11 years ago?
It is known that on January 30, 2011, he had custody of Alessia and Livia for a weekend at his home in the canton of Vaud, in western Switzerland. Il rejoint Marseille où il achète trois billets pour faire la traversée en ferry vers la Corse, à destination de Propriano.Il retire également pour 7,500 euros dans des distributors et envoie une carte à la mère des fillettes où il lui écrit ne pas pouvoir vivre sans she. He goes aboard the ship. With or without his two children? Witnesses state that he was accompanied by two little girls.
He made an express return from Bastia on the 31st, this time returning to the port of Toulon where he disembarked at 7 am on 1 February. With or without his daughters? The mystery remains. Also from the Toulon region, he posts a chilling letter to the girls’ mother: ” They now rest in peace, they did not suffer. You won’t see them again“, reports the Italian daily Corriere della Serra.
Matthias Schepp’s journey ends on February 3 in Cerignola, in the Puglia region of Italy. That day, he throws himself under a train and takes with him the fate of Alessia and Livia, whose bodies or presence could never be found.
In particular, their mother Irina made an appeal to the Missing Children Switzerland association, accompanied by computer-generated images that use an aging process.
Alessia and Livia turn 17 today.
Michelle Plasse-Bauer, a mother victim of a “judicial” kidnapping
†Tell my kids I never stopped looking for them. I have never let them down on my children. I keep fighting to find out if they are alive or deadIn this month of October 2008, a Toulonnaise Michelle Plasse-Bauer, a former paratrooper in the army, stands right in front of the Toulon Police Station.
With no news of her children since her divorce in 1993, she came to file a search on behalf of the families for a troubling disappearance.
A new approach that adds to a long line of complaints and lawsuits for this woman who has not seen her four children, three girls and a boy for nearly 15 years. Two years earlier, on February 28, 2006, the European Court of Human Rights was unruly against France.
The fifteen magistrates were of the opinion that the service of justice committed “gross negligence consisting of his inability to protect his right to family life“, according to the European Convention on Human Rights. The mother had only managed to see her minor daughter in five years, without the presence of a third party, and in catastrophic circumstances.
In summary, her rights as a mother, her visitation rights have been violated by the French legal system which turns a blind eye to the father’s non-executions. †My rights as a mother have been violated. I would probably die without seeing them again“, she confided to us. A premonition that unfortunately came true since Michelle Plasse-Bauer died in October 2020 without ever seeing her children again.
She then told how one day she had arrived at the parental home, that there was no one left. Neither husband nor child. gone. Left without leaving an address. A severe period of depression followed. But the fighter never gave up, confronted; multiplication of complaints for non-presentation of children, the handrails. A judge will also find out about the facts and release the spouse on the grounds that the meeting point”lack of organization†
The years pass and the absence grows. Knowing that her children had grown up, de Varoise hoped. †But what have they been saying about me all these years…she remarked.We had to tell them I was a bad mother†
Her grief, Michelle therefore put them on white sheets. †I have written more than 2500 pages to leave a trace of what I live“, she confided to us. And she left on the day of October 2020, after years of struggle, without realizing her dream.