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CRIME

Frenchman gets 25-year jail term for killing wife and burning her body

A French court Saturday sentenced Jonathann Daval to 25 years in prison for killing his wife and then burning her body, in a case that shocked the country.

Frenchman gets 25-year jail term for killing wife and burning her body
Jonathann Daval’s lawyer, Randall Schwerdorffer answers journalists at the Vesoul courthouse. Photo: AFP

The 36-year-old Frenchman was impassive as the verdict was read out. He turned to look at members of his own family who were present.

Earlier, he had said “Sorry, Sorry” in the dock, looking towards his wife's parents.

Daval finally confessed to beating his wife to death and burning her body in the woods after initially reporting her missing.

The charred remains of Alexia Daval were found hidden under branches near their town of Gray-la-Ville in eastern France in October 2017.

Daval initially said Alexia, a 29-year-old bank employee, had gone jogging and never came back.
Jean-Pierre Fouillot, Alexia's father, passed an arm around the shoulders of his wife Isabelle as the court's decision was delivered.

 

A few minutes later the mother, Isabelle Fouillot, went out to talk to reporters, as she had done throughout the trial.

“It is a very good decision, exactly what I hoped, at the height of our suffering. That will allow us to turn a page,” she said.

'Almost perfect conjugal crime'

Defence lawyer Ornella Spatafora swiftly indicated that there would be no appeal against the sentence.

Outside the courthouse dozens of people were pressed against the barriers blocking access to it.

Prosecutors had asked for a life sentence calling the 2017 murder “an almost perfect conjugal crime.”

After his wife's death, Duval had cut a distraught figure, appearing in tears at a press conference with his in-laws and leading one of several events organised countrywide in her memory.

Three months later, prosecutors said the IT worker confessed to the murder – admitting he had beaten his wife in a heated argument, knocking her face against a concrete wall, and strangling her.

He initially denied setting fire to her body, but finally admitted to that too, in June last year.

Daval changed his story several times, at one point withdrawing his confession, blaming his brother-in-law, and finally admitting to everything all over again.

 

On Monday, when asked by the judge whether he admitted to “being the only person implicated in the death” of his wife, Daval replied “yes”, appearing close to tears.

The crime deeply shocked France, and nearly 10,000 people turned out in the couple's quiet town for a silent march in her memory.

The murder highlighted the scourge of violence against women at the height of the global #MeToo campaign against sexual abuse and harassment of women.

On Monday, French authorities said 125,840 women were victims of domestic violence in 2019. Another 146 were murdered by their partner or ex-partner – 25 more than the previous year.

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CRIME

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.

Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.

Elsewhere in the capital, the defence was making its final arguments in the trial of the surviving suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.

‘Acted like vultures’ 

British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13th, 2015.

A white van with concealed number-plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019 in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.

Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since World War II, as Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.

On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.

During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation”, adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.

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