Australian student’s killer loses jail appeal

A 37-year-old Frenchman has lost his appeal to overturn his 30-year jail sentence for murdering an Australian student who was beaten, strangled and dumped in a car park outside Paris.

Australian student's killer loses jail appeal
(L to R) Denise, Christine, and Graig O' Keefe, siblings of murdered Australian student Jeanette O' Keefe, await her killer's conviction in Versailles in January 2012. Photo: Mehdi Fedouach/AFP

Brazilian-born Adriano Araujo Da Silva was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison in January last year for the murder 11 years earlier of 28-year-old Jeanette O'Keefe.

O'Keefe's body was found rolled up in a sleeping bag in a parking lot in the Paris suburb of Les Mureaux on January 2, 2001 –  three days after a series of events left her alone and without a bed for the night on New Year's Eve.

Araujo Da Silva insisted that he was innocent throughout the appeal hearing in the Paris suburb of Nanterre that began Tuesday.

But after only four hours of deliberation the court late Thursday rejected his appeal and upheld the original sentence.

Araujo Da Silva had confessed to the crime twice before retracting his testimony, saying he had been pressured by police.

He admitted to taking the woman home and having an argument with her, but insisted she left unharmed.

O'Keefe's four brothers and sisters, who were civil plaintiffs in the case, were in Paris for the appeal.

"It was extremely stressful to be honest, the whole time since Jeanette passed, but now I think today it lets us have some closure, and for our parents to have some closure," her sister Denise, 43, told AFP after the verdict.

"We don't know exactly what happened to Jeanette but we have a pretty good idea and her killer is going to be locked away for a very long time, so that's what we wanted."

Araujo Da Silva said he had met O'Keefe on the Champs Elysees in Paris on New Year's Eve and taken her to his home in Les Mureaux, where her body was found three days later.

French investigators found male DNA under the victim's fingernails, but it was eight years before they found a match, when Araujo Da Silva's genetic profile was entered into a database after he was arrested for petty theft.

He confessed to the killing when detained by police, saying he had beaten O'Keefe and strangled her to death when she refused to have sex with him a second time and threatened to call police.

An autopsy found she had been struck by at least 13 blows before being strangled to death.

Araujo Da Silva told the court on Tuesday that he had only confessed under pressure from police, who had said he would receive a lighter sentence if he admitted to the crime.

"I was tricked and manipulated during questioning," he said.

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French minister apologises for Champions League chaos

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Tuesday made a partial apology for chaos at last month's Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Paris, while insisting fake tickets and "delinquency" were mostly to blame.

French minister apologises for Champions League chaos

“Should things have been managed better at the Stade de France (stadium)? The answer is yes. Am I partly responsible? The answer is yes,” Darmanin told RTL radio.

“Of course, I readily apologise towards everyone who suffered from this bad management of the event,” he added.

After scenes of fans crowded into tight spaces and being tear-gassed by police caused outrage around Europe, Darmanin poured fuel on the fire by blaming supporters with fake tickets for the disruption.

UEFA events director Martin Kallen last week told French senators investigating the fiasco that the football body’s count of fake tickets was far short of the tens of thousands claimed by French authorities.

“We don’t believe it’s the number mentioned in France,” he said, adding that 2,600 fake tickets were identified at turnstiles — compared with the number of 30,000 to 40,000 people with fake tickets and without tickets suggested by Darmanin.

“It was a question of fake tickets… that created the difficulties we all know about” of large crowds of fans packed into underpasses or outside locked gates, Darmanin insisted Tuesday.

He added that “if there was something that went wrong at the Stade de France, it was the fight against delinquency”, saying he had already ordered a reorganisation of policing around the venue and that three major matches since had passed without incident.

While some supporters did report being victims of crime by gangs of youths before and after the match, there were also many complaints about police treatment of fans.

Disabled Liverpool fans last week told the Senate how officers sprayed tear gas at people in wheelchairs.

The English supporters have reacted with particular fury to Darmanin’s defence of the French police’s actions.

“People’s memories will forever be tarred by the lack of organisation and heavy-handed policing, and then of course the way authorities tried to deflect blame and scapegoat Liverpool fans for their incompetence,” Liverpool mayor Steve Rotheram told AFP earlier this month.

CCTV footage from around the stadium has also been deleted despite the Senate probe.

A government report published earlier this month said a “chain of failures” by French authorities has inflicted “severe damage” on the image of the country as it prepares to host the Olympic Games in 2024.