Evacuated Syria reporters arrive in France

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 02, 2012 1:24 PM
Evacuated Syria reporters arrive in France

PARIS (Reuters) - Two French journalists evacuated from the besieged Syrian city of Homs were flown home on Thursday and greeted by President Nicolas Sarkozy, who said the Syrian government would have to answer to international courts for its civilian killings.

Freelance reporter Edith Bouvier, whose femur was shattered during shelling of Homs's Baba Amro district, was lowered carefully - strapped into a stretcher - from a government plane that was sent to fetch the pair after rebels brought them over the border into Lebanon late on Thursday.

Photographer William Daniels smiled and looked relieved as he left the plane unaided.

The rescue ended a nine-day ordeal for Bouvier, who was injured in the same bombardment that killed French photographer Remi Ochlik and American journalist Marie Colvin, as the Syrian army kept up a campaign that has killed an estimated 7,500 civilians over the past year.

"The Syrian authorities will have to account for their crimes before the International Criminal Court," Sarkozy said on the tarmac at the Villacoublay presidential airstrip southwest of Paris.

"The crimes they have committed will not go unpunished."

Sarkozy, Bouvier's family members and the editor of Le Figaro, the daily which employs the two journalists, boarded the plane to greet Bouvier before she was carried down and put in an ambulance to be taken to hospital.

After crossing the border into Lebanon late on Thursday, the two were met by French embassy officials and a doctor, who decided Bouvier's leg was stable enough for her to fly home. The group had to deal with heavy snow as it made its way to Beirut.

"Their morale was good, but they were of course tired after everything they have been through in the last days and hours," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said earlier.

"She was very well taken care of by the Syrian doctors from the start, which meant her injury did not worsen," he said.

Sarkozy, who is two weeks into his campaign to win a second term in an April-May election, announced late on Thursday in Brussels that the two reporters were safely out of Syria.

(Reporting by Catherine Bremer, Daniel Flynn and Nicholas Vinocur, editing by Tim Pearce)