Police have determined that the main suspect had a history of psychiatric disorders / © AFP
France's government acknowledged Wednesday that it had to "do better" on illegal immigration after it emerged that an Algerian woman charged with the murder of a 12-year-old girl had been ordered to leave the country.
The brutalised body of the victim, identified only as "Lola" under French law, was found in a plastic box after going missing in northeast Paris last week.
A 24-year-old woman from Algeria was quickly identified as the main suspect and detained. Police have determined she had a history of psychiatric disorders.
Investigators also learned that the woman had overstayed a student visa, and in August had received notice to leave France within 30 days.
Conservative and far-right parties have seized on the murder to accuse President Emmanuel Macron's government of failing to enforce immigration laws, saying strict application of deportation orders could have avoided the murder.
"The government must be summoned to correct its mistakes," Le Figaro newspaper wrote in a front-page editorial Wednesday.
The president's allies however have denounced what they call a callous attempt to exploit a tragedy to score political points. Macron met the girl's parents on Tuesday to express his condolences and support.
- 'Political exploitation' -
Government spokesman Olivier Veran conceded on Wednesday that the enforcement of orders to quit French territory was not "satisfactory".
"We're working tirelessly to make sure deportations are carried out," Veran said after a cabinet meeting, but "obviously we must do better".
A French Senate report this year found that while 143,226 deportation orders were issued in 2021, only 9.3 percent were carried out, down from 15.6 percent in 2019.
"This is not the time for a political trial, for political exploitation, as we've seen over the past few days -- this is the wish of the family," Veran said, referring to Lola's parents.
"Above all they do not want anyone taking political advantage" of the crime, Mayor Gerard Ogiez of Fouquereuil, a village in northern France where the parents have sought refuge, told Le Parisien daily.
Far-right lawmakers have called for a rally to honour Lola on Thursday, after officials called off a silent march that had been planned for Wednesday.
"You won't be able to dismiss this issue with claims of exploitation," Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally said in parliament on Tuesday.