Far-right mayor of French town denies using woman’s murder to promote high-speed trains

Ciara Nugent
A man killed his wife by tying her to train tracks in Northern France in June: Mairie Beziers

A far-right mayor in France has denied mocking the murder of a woman on a train track in a poster campaign calling for a high-speed rail network extension.

Robert Menard, mayor of Beziers, tweeted out posters showing a woman tied to train tracks and screaming under the caption “With High-Speed Trains she would have suffered less!”

The images caused outrage among politicians and members of the public who said they made a “despicable” reference to a recent murder case.

A 34-year-old woman named only as Emilie died in the northern town of Beauvilliers in June when her husband, named as Guillaume, tied her to railway tracks before taking his own life.

Marlene Schiappa, minister for equality, said she had told the local authorities to “examine and take all possible recourses” to deal with the “hateful campaign”.

The youth branch of left-wing party France Insoumise labelled the campaign as “apologism for violence against women and femicide”.

Laurence Rossignol, a senator and former minister for women said, “I have filed a complaint with the public prosecutor demanding the removal of the posters as well as legal action against their authors.”

Mr Menard replied that he had not heard about the woman’s death, saying it was “vile of Rossignol to use it against us”.

Another of the posters, which have been put up around Beziers, shows an obstetrician holding a large model of a TGV train over a woman’s legs in stirrups. It reads, “TGV Occitaine, are you ready to give birth?”

Mr Menard, a former journalist who was elected in 2014 with the support of the National Front, has previously been accused of turning his town in the South of France into a laboratory for the far-right.

The president of the Socialist Party in the Occitaine region, Carole Delga, said Mr Menard’s “quest for attention at all costs” was “despicable” and had only harmed the local government’s efforts to bring high-speed trains to the region.