By: ELOISE WALTON
INTERMEZZO murder trial defendant Corinne Caspar admitted in court on Monday that she hit André Le Floch on the head once, but only after she claimed he had tried to rape her.
She said this had caused him to fall to his knees and allowed her brother, fellow defendant Thierry Beille, and her to tie him up “for our own safety”.
Several members of André Le Floch’s family were present at Lagos Court on Monday for the third and final day of the trial.
The public prosecutor, Magalhães e Menezes, asked for the two suspects to be condemned for the murder of André Le Floch, who was found dead aboard his capsized trimaran, the Intermezzo, in August 2006.
Considering all of the allegations of premeditated murder and the attempt to conceal the body to have been proven, the public prosecutor asked for a heavy penalty to be applied “to help the suspects reflect on what they have done”.
After the final six witnesses were heard, including André Le Floch’s three sons, Frank, Stephan and Filipe, the defence lawyer, Manuel dos Santos considered that “little evidence was produced in court” and asked for his clients to be absolved completely of theft and the concealment of a corpse.
Regarding the murder allegation, Manuel dos Santos said: “The intention to kill was not proven. The court should take this as a crime of assault, as it was only proven that Corinne hit André Le Floch on the head.”
Speaking on behalf of Corinne Caspar, Manuel dos Santos said: “When she was saved from the capsized trimaran, Corinne immediately said that there had been a third person aboard who was tied up, showing concern.”
Magalhães e Menezes, however, considered that the two French siblings acted together with full knowledge of what they were doing: “They showed no respect for human life, having gained the sailor’s confidence to steal the Intermezzo.”
He went on to say that the crime had been premeditated, with evidence including a lead weighted belt being transported onto the boat in order to make the body disappear at sea and the autopsy report which revealed that André Le Floch had died by strangulation before being tied up.
At the end of the trial, Corinne Caspar and Thierry Beille spoke to the court and answered the judge’s questions, although Corinne Caspar was told several times by the judge, Alda Casimiro, to respect the court.
In her defence, Corinne Caspar said: “I only hit André Le Floch on the head once after he had tried to rape me, which caused him to fall to his knees and allowed my brother and I to tie him up.
“This was for our own safety as he refused to take us to shore and was brandishing a knife at us. He was a mad man.”
When leaving the court, Corinne Caspar shouted out to André Le Floch’s sons, saying: “I didn’t kill your father. This is a farce.”
After the hearing, Stephan Le Floch, 29, said: “What Corinne said about our father makes no sense. He was a kind and gentle man who would never lift a hand to any woman. She is lying.”
During the previous session, which took place on Thursday, November 22, the previous owner of the Intermezzo was heard by the court. Four other witnesses confirmed that they saw the accused on the day they boarded the trimaran in August 2006.
“I was surprised that they had seven bags, one of them was extremely heavy,” said one witness, adding: “I asked Corinne if it was lead and she replied that it was iron.”
Doctor Paulo da Silva answered the court’s questions about the autopsy that he and his colleague conducted on the body of the victim, which was exhaustive and confirmed that Le Floch had died as a result of mechanical asphyxia and had been tied up after death.
During the afternoon, an official interpreter was available to help the judge, Alda Casimiro, question seven French witnesses by videoconferencing. At the end of the day, a PSP agent told the court how he had become suspicious of Corinne Caspar’s story when she was taken to the Curry Cabral Hospital in Lisbon after being rescued.
The verdict will be read at Lagos court on December 14.
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