Nordahl Lelandais’ lawyer tries “to get into his head” but “does not excuse anything”

Arnaud Bizot, in Grenoble

Updated

Alain Jakubowicz, the lawyer for Nordahl Lelandais pleaded Thursday in Grenoble, believing that his client “deserves 30 years in prison”.

He hesitated for a long time to agree to defend Nordahl Lelandais. In 2017, Alain Jakubowicz, lawyer for business law, the press, a time president of the Licra, brought together the partners of his firm to ask them for their opinion, as he tells in a book, “Either I win, or I ‘learn’ (Plon). Was this criminal case going to scare away customers? His associates guessed that his decision was already made. More than a challenge, an evidence, like that of Robert Badinter, who defended Patrick Henry, who had kidnapped and killed Philippe Bertrand, a seven-year-old child. We are in 1976, Badinter saved his client from the death penalty. And finally, between the perpetuity requested by Advocate General Jacques Dallest against Lelandais and the thirty years that Me Jakubowicz wants, it’s a bit like the equivalent between the life and the death of a being, like a invisible guillotine. “Every man must keep a hope, however distant. The word perpetuity refers to eternity. It annihilates all hope”, launched the defender of Lelandais during the three hours of his pleading which was attended by a number of lawyers from Grenoble and law students, curious to know how one could defend so many atrocities, what arguments would be pronounced, without shock, with a margin of maneuver as narrow as a pinhole.

Read also: Maëlys case: “May the images of our dead children haunt you for eternity”

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It is on this chapter that “Jaku”, 68, began his talk. “How to defend a man who kidnapped a child, how to defend a man who killed an eight-year-old girl, who lowered the panties of his four and eight-year-old cousins, how to defend a man whose crimes provoke revolt and disgust ? I have been asking myself these questions for four years, and I have found the answer in my oath as a lawyer and in my faith in man”. This file has undoubtedly marked him, and Lelandais surely very disappointed, who swore to him six months to be for nothing in this story. The lawyer then remembered this adage repeated to him by his professor of criminal law: “Never forget that your client is your worst enemy”. Throughout these three weeks of trial, he will have words that could have come out of the mouths of the civil parties and the prosecution: they gave credibility to his defense. Thus, during his final plea, we could hear him say: “I have the same indignation as you with regard to the facts”. Or: “I don’t want to make people cry in the cottages over Nordahl Lelandais, especially not”. Or: “I am aware, and I am sad, that this trial will not provide all the answers to the parents and sister of Maëlys”. Finally: “I know that no one will scream if Nordal Lelandais is ever sentenced to life imprisonment with twenty-two years of security”.

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He recalled Lelandais’ behavior when he returned to the wedding, so normal, like his life the following days. His lies. “We will have to do law: you judge a crime, you do not judge a behavior. Not to denounce, to lie, it is a right. I get insulted enough when I say that, but it’s a right in France. Summarizing the investigation by the gendarmes at his home, the conclusions of the shrinks: “We searched and searched for explanations in his past and what did we find? Nothing. Wouldn’t we have liked that he had an alcoholic father, a mother who would have abandoned him? Would that have reassured us? Well no. Forgive me for saying it in these terms, but Nordahl Lelandais looks like us”.

“He killed a little girl”

Facts, he eluded the blows to Maëlys and the possibility of rape, for which, for lack of evidence, he was not indicted. “What happened is up to his conscience (…) It’s terrible, we only have his version (…) My role as a lawyer is not to make him talk but to support him”. Of the facts, he only returned to the wine of honor and the departure of his client with the child. “He’s an uninhibited murderer who arrives at the wedding. Allusion to this visit of the gendarmes, at the time when they are investigating the death of Corporal Noyer. They hear Lelandais for a dark story of a flat tire, and Lelandais then realizes that it is not for Arthur Noyer. His “feeling of omnipotence” will be born. He does not ask Maëlys’ parents if she has permission to go see her dogs. “Whatever explanation he gives, it’s a kidnapping. Loaded with alcohol and coke, he has no business in a car with a child. Let’s analyze the situation. I try to get inside his head. I don’t excuse anything. He knows that we saw him with Maëlys and that he spoke to her. How can he think he’s going to escape suspicion? It’s suicidal, his thing. But he didn’t kill himself, he killed a little girl.

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Incurable Lelandais? “He walked on during these three weeks of hearing and is beginning to understand. Yes, the road will be long, yes, the road will be painful. Of course, the time of freedom is not here”. The pain of families? He tackles Advocate General Jacques Dallest: “You wanted a sentence “at the height of the pain of the family”. Mr. Prosecutor, where did we see that a sentence was set on the basis of the pain of a family? You know it ! In this case, infinite pain, infinite pain? You are the guardian of public order, not of the civil party”. To the jurors, continuing to “do law”, he recalls having asked for the reclassification of the facts at the trial, in Chambéry, for the murder of Arthur Noyer. Murder instead of assassination. “I was refused, but instead of the thirty years requested by the prosecution, the juror decided on twenty years. This legal truth applies to you”. (…) “Your decision does not have to echo public opinion. Your intimate conviction is the impression made on your conscience by the evidence reported. The evidence ! “And to conclude:” Thirty years locked up, that’s what he deserves and he knows it. Will he appeal if he thinks the sentence is unjust? We will know after the verdict that the Court of Assizes will render, “this geometric place of human pain”, as Badinter calls it.

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