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Frenchman Debatisse accused of murdering girlfriend acquitted   |19 April 2022

Following a trial of some two-and-a-half months, Thomas Debatisse, the Frenchman accused of murdering his girlfriend, Emmanuelle Badibanga at the Club Med Resort on Ste Anne on April 27, 2021, is now a free man after has been found not guilty by the jury.

Supreme Court Judge Melchior Vidot who presided over the trial which started on February 3, 2022 started presenting his summing up of the entire case on Thursday April 14 from morning till afternoon before members of the jury started giving their verdict. The deliberations ended around 4.30am on Good Friday morning whereby six out of the eight jurors found Debatisse not guilty as the prosecution has not proved the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Originally a nine-member jury was selected, however, due to a medical condition one of the jurors was unavailable for the deliberation and verdict.

The trial which started on February 3, 2022 is one of the longest in the history of Seychelles.

Guided by Judge Vidot the jurors were presented with the report (of more than 100 pages) and the legal aspects they must consider. The jurors started their deliberations at 1.30am and gave their verdict around 4.30am.

Family members of the accused, namely his mother Anne and stepfather who have been present every day in court from the second week of the trial, were very emotional after the verdict was announced and defence attorney, Basil Hoareau criticised the competency of the forensic pathologist employed by the Public Health Authority (PHA) and involved in the murder case and also accused him of lying in court.

Lawyer Hoareau said it was clear from the start that his client was innocent and that the Seychelles police need to review how they conduct their investigations. He added that the case showed many inconsistencies and that he advised his client to bring a case forward against the pathologist and the PHA who are responsible for him spending one year of his life incarcerated.

“For me I had no doubt that an innocent man was on trial. It is clear that the police need to review the way they conduct investigations because if they had done their investigation well, the man would never have been on trial. The Ministry of Health should look more closely at who it employs as forensic pathologist. I know the person was working with the police but he is incompetent and has lied in court,” Mr Hoareau stated.

He said the French police conducted their own investigations in the case and it is through them that French experts got involved and came forward with expert evidence.

Furthermore, Mr Hoareau went on to point out that “if the accused was one of our Seychellois brothers without the option to have the intervention of foreign experts in his case, I can assure you that only with evidence provided by the pathologist based in Seychelles, there would have been a conviction.”

One of three French lawyers, Richard Sedillot who was part of the defence team, expressed his joy at the verdict. He too said they were convinced of Debatisse’s innocence from the beginning and that the jury had been very attentive.

He said from the start they asked themselves how such a poorly and negligently compiled dossier could have been sent to court.

Debatisse who was accompanied by his mother Anne and stepfather out of the courtroom was also very emotional after being declared not guilty but he refrained from making any comments except for saying “enough humiliation”.

The sister of the deceased and another member of her family quickly left the court room after the verdict was announced. 

To note the 35-year-old French national pleaded not guilty to the charge of the murder of his 32-year-old girlfriend who was found hanging in the bathroom of their hotel room in the evening of April 27, 2021.

The prosecution lawyer Hemanth Kumar did not give an interview but denounced that the pathologist lied in court as he is an experienced doctor, adding that pathologists give a cause of death without knowing what device was used to cause the death. He added that he was surprised by the verdict as the evidence given in court although circumstantial adds up to show the accused was guilty.


Marla Simeon





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