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Woman to wed slain French soldier posthumously

PARIS (AP) – The pregnant girlfriend of a French soldier killed in a dramatic gun rampage will wed her partner posthumously, a family lawyer said Saturday.

Paratrooper Abel Chennouf was shot dead earlier this month at a cash machine in southern France, one of a series of killings blamed on 24-year-old Islamist fanatic Mohamed Merah.

Lawyer Gilbert Collard said that Chennouf’s pregnant girlfriend, 21-year-old Caroline Monet, is applying for permission to get married to her late partner at an official ceremony in a few weeks’ time.

Such ceremonies are unusual but not unheard of in France, where the law allow posthumous marriages in cases where a fiance dies before the wedding. The law states that such weddings can only be approved by the French president “in grave circumstances.”

“I’ve already had it done twice, for policemen’s girlfriends,” Collard said in a telephone interview. “It’s a really moving ceremony, with an empty chair representing the dead spouse.”

Collard said the official request was being sent out Saturday, but that he’d already received the nod from the French president’s office.

“There won’t be any problems,” Collard said, adding that he hopes the ceremony will “let the child have a father.”

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