Singer Cheb Mami gets five years in forced abortion case
Music star Cheb Mami was sentenced Friday to five years in jail for trying to make a former lover undergo a forced abortion, despite pleading for forgiveness at his trial near Paris.
Known as the "Prince of Rai", the 42-year-old Algerian-born singer this week ended two years on the run and returned to France to face trial for the 2005 assault against his ex-girlfriend.
Wearing a white shirt, the star, whose real name is Mohamed Khelifati, showed no emotion as the verdict was read out, before being escorted from the courtroom in Bobigny, outside Paris, and remanded in custody.
Prosecutors had asked for seven years against Mami, who produced several chart-topping records in France in the 1990s but reached international stardom in 2001 with the hit "Desert Rose" sung with British pop star Sting.
The singer's lawyer Claire Doubliez said he would be eligible for parole in just over two years. She said Mami was "relieved" for the trial to be over and would not appeal the verdict.
The victim, a 43-year-old photographer whose name was withheld, was sequestered and drugged in Mami's villa in Algiers in the summer of 2005 after revealing she was pregnant with his child. Two women and a man then tried to carry out an abortion on her.
Returning to France, the woman learned that her pregnancy had not been terminated and went on to have the child -- a girl -- now three years old.
"They insulted me. They threw me on the mattress and tore off my pants....I was given three shots with needles, one woman pressed against my stomach and the other put her hand in my vagina and started scraping," she told the court.
The victim was not present to hear the verdict but her lawyer, Marie Dose, said her client was "relieved to see that the court understood the violence she was subjected to," and hoped that her young daughter "can forgive her father."
During his testimony, Mami broke down in tears and pleaded for the woman's forgiveness, admitting he made a "serious mistake" but saying he did not love her and felt "trapped" when she told him she was pregnant.
"I was ashamed to have an illegitimate child. A child should be born from a union. I didn't want this child," said the singer.
Mami blamed his former manager, saying he was behind the plot to force his lover to have an abortion.
"I was in a panic and I agreed," he said. "I did nothing to stop him."
The former manager Michel Lecorre -- also known as Michel Levy -- was sentenced to four years for plotting and organising the assault.
Arrest warrants were also issued for two of Mami's aides, Hicham Lazaar and Abdelkader Lallali, who were convicted in absentia of having a direct hand in the violence. They were sentenced to three and six years in jail respectively.