Issued by:

Hundreds attended the funeral of murdered 12-year-old Lola in her mother’s hometown of Lille in northern France.

“Lola, my adorable little sister, I hope you hear me in heaven. Unfortunately, you left us too soon. I never got a chance to say how much I loved you. I hope I was there for you when you needed help. We will miss you.” This is what Lola Thibault’s brother said through tears at the funeral service at St. Omer’s Church.

The dead girl’s parents said the funeral would be open to the public, but they asked for privacy at the grave.

They asked those who wish to attend the church service to respect their daughter’s memory by making sure that the funeral will take place peacefully and with dignity, without political and media agitation.

Lola’s killing shocked France and sparked a bitter political row, with right-wing and far-right critics accusing Macron’s government of not doing enough to prevent illegal migration.

An Algerian woman, who had already been accused of deportation, was charged with murder. The suspect has a history of mental disorders and may be found unfit to stand trial.

Lola’s white coffin was carried into St. Omer’s Church, followed by her parents, brothers and a crowd of anonymous friends and sympathizers.

Politicians, but without pomp

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanen, Charlotte Kobel, junior minister for children, and local MP Caroline Parmontier were among those who protested at the church.

The funeral Mass was celebrated by the Bishop of Arras, Master Olivier Leborn, and was broadcast over loudspeakers for those who could not find a place in the church.

“Lola died not only too soon,” said the congregation’s bishop, “but also in deplorable circumstances.”

Her lifeless body was found in a suitcase in the yard of the Paris neighborhood where she lived with her family. She was sexually assaulted and died of asphyxiation.

President Emmanuel Macron called the crime “brutal”.

Political divisions over security

The profile of the suspect, an Algerian woman identified only as Dabia B., who was the subject of the deportation order, has drawn sharp criticism from right-wing political circles.

Eric Choti, a member of parliament from the right-wing Republican Party, accused the government of “criminal … laxity” on migration, while far-right activist Eric Zemmur called Lola’s killing “francocide”.

The suspect had overstayed his student visa and failed to comply with requirements issued in August to leave France within 30 days.

On Monday, the 24-year-old was charged with the rape and murder of a minor under the age of 15, as well as torture and ill-treatment.

Prosecutors said the woman admitted to “committing sexual injuries and other violent acts against (Lola) that led to her death and hiding her body in the trunk.”

According to the autopsy, the young girl died “from cardiorespiratory failure with signs of asphyxia and compression of the cervix.”

The investigation will now focus on whether the suspect was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the murder and whether she should be held criminally responsible for the murder.