UPDATED 15.36 OCTOBER 30
By CECÍLIA PIRES
THE LAWYER representing Corinne Caspar and Thierry Beilly, on trial for the murder of André Le Floch, the French owner of the trimaram Intermezzo, has resigned from the case.
António Vilar told Lagos Court about his decision on Thursday, October 25, just a day after the beginning of the trial.
According to the lawyer, the defendants didn’t trust him “because their questions were not out to the witnesses” and they didn’t trust the court “because the judge didn’t let them speak every time they wanted”.
He explained that a telephone conversation between Corinne and well known French lawyer Gilbert Collard, only two hours before the beginning of the trial, had led to a change in their behaviour.
After presiding judge Alda Casimiro read the accusations against them, Corinne Gaspar and Thierry Beilly said they did not feel comfortable about making statements in the absence of their French lawyer, who could not attend due to the airline pilots’ strike in Portugal.
This action was seen as a public showing that they did not trust their Portuguese lawyer and as a strategy to delay the hearing.
At the end of the first day of the trial, António Vilar said he was “surprised when they refused to speak at the trial because the defence strategy was already decided”.
He also said that he didn’t appreciate the fact that his “professional ethics were questioned” several times during the session, with Thierry constantly passing notes containing what he wanted to be asked of the witnesses.
The lawyer considered this move showed that the defendants were looking for a high profile trial, which was something he was not willing to do.
António Vilar had represented the couple, who are brother and sister, since August, replacing the court appointed lawyer, Francisco Pagarete, who is now the attorney representing Robert Murat in the Madeleine McCann case.
The two French citizens are accused of murdering André Le Floch, who was also French, while aboard his trimaran, Intermezzo in August 2006. They face charges of first degree murder and body profanation as well as robbery.
At this first session, just four of the 18 witnesses were questioned by the court, three of them inspectors from the Polícia Judiciária and a fourth, Jean Claude Charles, 69, a Swiss friend of André Le Floch, the owner of the Intermezzo.
The court also heard from Jean Claude Charles, who confirmed to the court that he met Corinne Gaspar at a lunch on his brother’s boat, which was berthed in Olhão port as well as the Intermezzo.
The Swiss witness was then asked to say if he saw the group leaving Olhão port aboard the Intermezzo, on the day that Le Floch was allegedly murdered, and if there was a third person on the boat. To those questions Jean Claude Charles answered that he was surprised when he saw someone raising anchor on the Intermezzo, although he knew that his friend was planning a trip with Corinne along the Algarve coast to Portimão.
However, he confirmed that a third person was never mentioned during that previous lunch, two days earlier.
The trial is scheduled to continue on November 22 at the Lagos Court House.