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Didier Seban: “Serial killers undoubtedly go under the radar” – France


The first trial of Nordahl Lelandais opens on May 3, in Chambéry, for the assassination of Arthur Noyer. Has this affair not yet shown the limits of the French system?

The subject is, in fact, still catastrophic. We had two investigating judges responsible for the two main cases, the assassination of little Maëlys de Araujo (in August 2017, Editor’s note) and Arthur Noyer (in April 2017). These two judges were not speaking to each other, one is in Chambéry, the other in Grenoble, so we are going to have two trials. We will not understand anything about the personality of Lelandais. There is a level difference, of course, between killing a young soldier after a chance encounter and kidnapping a girl at a wedding where you are invited. A serial killer is the pieces of a puzzle, a life course, a criminal logic. We refrain from discovering this by investigating fact by fact. The functioning of our justice system in silos results in this issue not being really resolved.

You represent the families of two missing persons during a music festival in Fort Tamié (Savoie), Jean-Christophe Morin, in 2011, and Ahmed Hamadou, in 2012. What do you blame the justice for in these two cases?

Walkers discovered a skull last September, near Fort Tamié. After months and multiple requests on our part, it now appears almost certain that it is the skull of Mr. Hamadou, whose body therefore seems to have been abandoned there or buried lightly, as in the Maëlys and Noyer files. The two Morin and Hamadou cases are treated separately and without connection with the other Lelandais cases. However, the Tamié festival is a place where drugs are sold, which Lelandais did. The two missing could know Lelandais and one was in contact with his brother.

“It risks remaining a Lelandais mystery, which will leave families in doubt”.

What are you asking specifically?

What would interest us is that the vigilantes of the festival, which we are widely looking for, are questioned. However, we are doing the survey ourselves, asking interns to examine all the existing images of this festival. We took months to get Jean-Christophe Morin’s cell phone to be appraised and we do not yet have the result. It risks remaining a Lelandais mystery, which will leave families in doubt.

You propose in your report a change of procedure on this type of facts …

It would be necessary, in fact, that the same magistrate can examine the whole course of a suspect of serial crimes, starting from him and not from facts treated separately. And we must also introduce other changes. With my partner, Corinne Herrmann, we are convinced that other serial killers are walking in France and going under the radars because we do not make the connections between different files.

What ideas do you come up with more widely for unresolved cases?

Our committee proposed to centralize these files in specialized interregional jurisdictions (Jirs), overwhelmed by organized crime. Me, I rather propose a new national pole which would take the unresolved cases after two or three years. Other strong ideas are to create a website on cases of missing children and possibly unsolved crimes, as well as a DNA file of victims. It would also simply be necessary to identify unsolved crimes, which is never done.

“It’s atrocious for the victim’s family. Not to know is to constantly imagine that the author can be the neighbor, the brother-in-law, the lover. It is a poison over two or three generations ”.

Beyond the structures, is there not a problem of culture and means?

We have fewer and fewer investigators on these facts, because they are all about terrorism. On terrorism, moreover, we deploy extraordinary investigative techniques, massive data, the pooling of information with foreign police … We should do more in this way for common law.

Your experience in this business has also taught you some simple methods …

Our job is already to read the file thoroughly, where often leads or elements have been overlooked. In a recent case, for example, the judge was asked to check the seals and an object was found there which is clearly the murder weapon, since it corresponds to the particular marks on the victim’s back. We ask families to create an association to mobilize, to look in the local press over several years for anything that may relate or resemble the murder committed.

It seems that, sometimes, Justice gives up uncovering other crimes for a killer already imprisoned for life. Is it conceivable for you?

It is simply unbearable. First, because it’s atrocious for the victim’s family. Not to know is to constantly imagine that the author can be the neighbor, the brother-in-law, the lover. It is a poison over two or three generations. Then, because this supposes that investigations remain open and still mobilize investigators, magistrates, without a real will to go to the end.

Do you have any hope of reform?

One thing is certain, everyone today recognizes that it does not work. We met (the Minister of Justice) Éric Dupond-Moretti, who told us that he agreed with us and that we had to act. An article could be adopted in the text “Confidence in the judicial institution” but we have the impression that the administration of the ministry is doing everything to remain in the old principles. So, what is the weight of a minister to make things happen?

* Arrived on the subject with the file of the “disappeared of Yonne” and the serial killer Émile Louis, in 2000, Didier Seban developed, with his partner Corinne Herrmann, a specialized department of his Parisian firm on the “cold cases », Relaunching dozens of forgotten cases. He managed to clarify the investigation into the disappearance of Estelle Mouzin, in 2003, where the couple of serial killers Fourniret-Olivier was confused. The tandem of lawyers largely fed the debates of the commission which submitted, in March, a report to the government, with 26 proposals to better deal with “cold cases”.

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