French boy beaten to death by his family for not doing his homework

A police badge is pictured as French police protest near the Justice Ministry in Paris, France, October 14, 2015. Thousands of police protested outside France's justice ministry for the first time in decades on Wednesday to denounce a lack of resources and what they say is insufficient support from the judiciary in their daily law enforcement work. The slogan reads "inadequate self-defence = police in danger".   REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen - RTS4EYU
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A nine-year-old French boy who refused to do his homework was beaten to death by his family in the early hours of Sunday.

Police say that the boy's older brother beat him with a broom handle, which caused him to suffer a cardiac arrest. 

But pathologists attribute his death to blunt force trauma caused by the beating.

Four family members have been arrested, including the boy's mother who was not present at the time, but was aware of the situation, reports the BBC.

The mother had been away on a business trip but police say she had actively encouraged the abuse. The boy's brother, sister, stepsister and mother are all being held in custody awaiting a judicial investigation.

The boy's death has prompted a vigil in his home city of Mulhouse.

It has come at a time where France's National Assembly is considering a ban on smacking children, where parents would be banned from using "means of humiliation such as physical or verbal violence, corporal punishment and moral abuse".

In 2009 New Zealand passed a similar law that banned the use of "unfair force for correction" against children.