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'Unfortunate error' stirs up the Grégory Affair once more

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'Unfortunate error' stirs up the Grégory Affair once more


The “Grégory Affair” is back in the spotlight again and causing a stir on the web.

The controversy centres on a photo of Grégory Villemin, the four-year-old French boy who was killed in the Vosges region of France in 1984.

The picture was used to illustrate an advert published in a daily newspaper put out by the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. The back page advert was intended to promote the festival’s childcare options.

Festival organisers have described the use of the image as an “unfortunate error”, while sceptics label it a “publicity coup”.

Either way, it has “outraged” Grégory’s parents, Christine and Jean-Marie Villemin. According to their solicitor, Thierry Moser, they are demanding that festival organisers issue an immediate and sincere letter of apology. If not, they are threatening to take legal action to “punish such seriously inappropriate behaviour”.

A spokesperson for the festival gives two possible reasons for such a gross error. During the festival, the newspaper hires interns and trains them in formatting. The young intern graphic designer who downloaded the picture of Grégory (after typing “enfant”- or “child” – into Google images) is a foreigner who was completely unaware of case. In addition, the editor of the newspaper didn’t pick up on the error because the image was slightly blurred.

Festival organisers said they would immediately withdraw all copies of the newspaper.

The “Grégory Affair”, as the legal case surrounding the murder of Grégory Villemin is known, is one of France’s best known legal mysteries.

On October 16 1984 Grégory’s body was found in the Vologne river, seven kilometres from his parents’ house. His hands and legs were bound. An anonymous telephone call led investigators to the child’s body.

The family had already received threatening letters and calls from somebody they came to call “The Crow” after a 1943 French film in which residents of a small town begin to receive slanderous letters signed “The Crow”. The 1984 version of “The Crow” is believed to have made the tip-off phone call to the house on the day of the murder.

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