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French court
drops high-profile case of antigay attack

French court
drops high-profile case of antigay attack

A court in northern France has thrown out a case involving an attack on a gay man that drew nationwide attention and helped lead to a law penalizing homophobic statements, judicial officials said Tuesday. Attackers allegedly doused Sebastien Nouchet with gasoline in his garden and set him ablaze in the January 2004 incident. He was hospitalized for several weeks with severe burns. He told investigators that the aggressors used antigay epithets during the attack. After more than 2-1/2 years of investigation and court proceedings, the judge in Bethune dropped the case on Monday, court officials said. No reason for the decision was given, though the defense has long cited the lack of witnesses or solid evidence in the case. A suspect was detained in May 2004 and placed under investigation, but he was later released for lack of evidence. Nouchet's lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment. The attack drew national attention and was seen as a key factor leading to measures that make homophobic statements punishable by fines. The measures were part of a December 2004 law that created a government agency called the High Authority for the Battle Against Discrimination and for Equality, or HALDE. (AP)

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