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France has praised the feat of Mamoudou Gassama, the Malian immigrant who climbed to the fourth floor of a Parisian building to save a 4-year-old boy who hung from a balcony.
But the incident left many doubts: how did the little one get there? where were their parents? Could the neighbor next door try harder to rescue him?
As the days go by, new details emerge of what happened.
The boy had been only three weeks in the French capital, where he had moved from Reunion Island, a French overseas territory east of Madagascar. There he still lives his mother, who plans to travel to Paris with his second child in June.
The father and the child actually live on the sixth floor, the janitor told the BFMTV news channel.
This means that the child fell two floors and somehow managed to grab hold of the balcony railing on the fourth floor.
The mother explained to the local radio station Antenne Réunion that the father was not used to taking care of the child and that it was not the first time that he left him alone in the apartment.
The man had gone shopping and then played in the street playing Pokémon Go, according to prosecutors.
“I can not justify what my husband did, people will say it’s something that can happen to anyone and it has happened to other people, my son just got lucky,” the mother told the station.
The authorities filed charges against the father for not taking care of the child. The man is “deeply sorry,” according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.
In France, not fulfilling the obligations of being a father can be punished with two years in prison and a fine of US $ 35,000.
What was the neighbor doing?
In the video that circulated through social networks and went viral, you can see Gassama climbing the facade but also a couple of neighbors on the balcony adjacent to the one from which the child hung.
One of them is a man who seems to be very close to the child , so much so that many have wondered why he does not pick it up and put it to safety.
But according to what this neighbor told the newspaper Le Parisien , the separator between the balconies allowed him to reach the hand of the child but not raise it.
“I did not want to risk letting go of his hand, I thought it was best to go step by step,” he said. As he explained, the boy was wearing a Spiderman costume , one of his toes was bleeding and he had a broken nail.
Firefighters entered his apartment and climbed the separator to reach Gassama and the child, who is now in the custody of the French authorities, according to the press in that country.
A “true hero”
The grandmother of the child thanked on the French television channel RMC the heroism of Gassama.
“My God, I was in shock , my grandson, my grandson, save him!” Was his reaction to seeing the images, he said.
“Luckily he knew how to climb, because there were a lot of people down but he did not stay with his arms crossed, he hurried to the fourth floor, that was really incredible, he was very brave,” he said. “He is a true hero.”
French President Emmanuel Macron thanked the Malian 22 years old for his feat at the Elysee Palace on Monday. After meeting with him, he announced that the State will grant him the nationality and offer him a position as a firefighter.
For the moment, he has already received the residency and a contract to do internships with the firefighters.
The young man left the town of Yaguine, in the southwest of Mali, in 2013, when he was a teenager.
He took the route followed by thousands of African migrants every year to reach Europe. He crossed the Sahara desert through Burkina Faso, Niger, Libya and the Mediterranean Sea until arriving in Italy in 2014 on a second attempt, since the first time he was intercepted by the police.
“I did not have the means to live and nobody helped me,” Gassama told Macron.
His trip included a year working in Libya, where immigrants are often exploited and even enslaved by organized crime.
“I suffered a lot, they caught us and beat us but I did not lose hope,” he said.
As he told the president, he went to France because his brother had lived there for years, but in Italy he did not know anyone.
In Paris, he worked in construction without a contract, as he had no papers, and lived in a hostel in a neighborhood where the Malian population abounds called Montreuil.
There he shared a room with relatives and slept on a mattress on the floor.