• France's news in English

Murder suspect released after fax ink fiasco

Joshua Melvin · 7 Feb 2014, 15:35

Published: 07 Feb 2014 15:35 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

France’s Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira called for an official inquiry on Friday into how the failure of a mundane but apparently crucial cog in France's judicial system led to a murder defendant's release from jail this week.

The vital cog was a fax machine which, unfortunately for judicial authorities and much to the horror of the murder victim's family, had run out of ink.

The defendant, a 24-year-old known as Amadou F., had been held for 37 months on charges that he took part in a mob attack that left 31-year-old father of two Claudy Elisor dead. 

Elisor was beaten by 10 or more suspects after he refused to let them enter the 2010 New Year’s Eve celebration in the Parisian suburb of Blanc-Mesnil, where he was the host and DJ.

After Amadou F.'s arrest a judge had ordered in June 2013 that he be kept behind bars until his trial. The defendant opposed the order and sent a written request to that effect to the prosecutors’ office in the Parisian suburb of Bobigny. But their fax machine was out of ink, so they never received the documents. 

Because the fax never arrived, Amadou's request did not go before a judge within the required 20-day time limit. His lawyer then took up the issue, arguing his client was being held "arbitrarily". The court agreed and released him at 5 pm on Wednesday after discovering what the problem was: the inkless fax machine.

The Bobigny prosecutor’s office later explained the malfunction was due to being “out of stock of toner cartridges because of a lack of a maintenance agreement given the old age of the machine.”

The defendant’s lawyer said the judges had done justice by releasing his client.

“The judges enforced the law and there is nothing shocking about freeing a person who claims that he is innocent,” Gilles-Jean Portjoie told French daily Le Parisien.

Story continues below…

News of the fax fiasco however left Elisor’s family reeling and wondering if justice would ever be done.

“My client and her two children have been expecting a trial for years. They are absolutely wounded by this,” The family’s lawyer Bernard Benaïem told the AFP. “They know now that one of the perpetrators may never be tried.”

The fiasco has also left France's Justice Minister red faced.

“We have to figure out how this malfunction occurred, the consequences are enormous,” Christiane Taubira told French magazine L’Express while visiting a school in Bordeaux. “We will not allow risks of this nature.”

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President François Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available