France prop Haouas given suspended jail sentence for theft
France prop Mohamed Haouas was convicted on Friday for his role in burglaries worth tens of thousands of euros at tobacco vendors in France in 2014.
Haouas, 27, who was left out of Les Bleus' squad for this Sunday's Six Nations opening match with Italy because of his trial, was given an 18-month suspended sentence and fined 15,000 euros ($17,000).
He was questioned and spent four days in custody in June 2014 for his involvement in the theft of cigarettes, lottery scratch cards and tax stamps from outlets in and around Montpellier. The stolen goods were estimated to be worth tens of thousands of euros.
The 125 kilogramme (276 pounds) front-rower, who has 12 Test caps, was also accused of handling a stolen car at the time.
"It's an exemplary journey for young people, and I realise that," the prosecutor said.
"He wants to repay his debt and close this chapter," she added.
During questioning, Haouas kept his silence about the incidents, preferring to allow his lawyer to speak, but the father of two did respond to questioning about his family's background and upbringing in Montpellier.
"We ate at charity-run restaurants, we lived in hostels, it was a little bit difficult," he said.
"I struggled in life, I sorted things out, I'm proud of having built a family, a home," he added.
Under questioning eight years ago, Haouas denied any connection with the burglaries but admitted to transporting cigarettes.
Suspicion surrounding Haouas was based on close-circuit television footage and evidence given by police officers about one of the burglars, who "moved like a rugby player".
His DNA was found on a headlamp at one scene.
The Montpellier tight-head had been due to go on trial in the southern French city in January 2021 but the long-awaited hearing was postponed three times.