ROCHEFORT: The owner of the famous French rooster Maurice emerged victorious on Thursday from a legal battle with his neighbors for his singing early in the morning, with a court defending the bird’s right to sing in the day.
The case presented by the neighbors of Maurice’s owner, Corinne Fesseau, has made headlines worldwide, seen as a symptom of tensions in the countryside between rural people and homeowners.
Jean-Louis Biron, a retired farmer, and his wife Joelle, from the Haute-Vienne region, in central France, said they were awakened at 4 in the morning by Maurice’s sharp wake-up call.
Fesseau said he made several attempts to silence his pet, including placing black sheets around his chicken coop to deceive him and make him think that the morning had not yet broken, it was all in vain.
In response to Thursday’s ruling, a victorious “Cocorico” (French for cock-a-doodle-doo) shouted out of the courtroom and said he was “speechless.”
“It is a victory for everyone in the same situation as me. I hope it serves as a precedent,” he said, and called for a new “Maurice law” to protect the sounds of the countryside.
- T-shirts ‘Save Maurice’ –
The mayor of the city, Christophe Sueur, an unconditional ally of the local woman Fesseau, adopted a different opinion, arguing that residents had always led a rural lifestyle, “with orchards and chicken coops.”
- “Simply audible” –
To verify Birons’ claim that Maurice was disturbing the peace, a court official was sent home three nights in a row to assess the time and volume of Maurice’s call.
The official discovered that the rooster sang “intermittently” between 6.30-7.00 am (0430-0500 GMT), not from 4 am, and said the noise was “merely audible” but in no way loud if the couple closed their windows .
The court punished the Birons for presenting what they called a “frivolous” case, saying they should have tried to resolve the matter amicably.
The mayor of the village of Gajac, in the southwest, Bruno Dionis, wrote a furious open letter in May in defense of the rights of church bells to ring, cows to die and donkeys to bray throughout rural France .
He has asked the government to register the sounds in the list of French heritage.