Triple Jeopardy

photo: cafe le danube, pl rhin et danube

The other café at the Place de Rhin et Danube.

Trial Sets Several 'Firsts'

Paris:- Monday, 2. July 2001:- Readers of newspapers and viewers of TV-news could have been following the murder trial of Patrick Dils quite closely, if the trial had not be held 'in camera.'

After several days of second-hand reports from outside the courtroom, a 'popular' jury of eight men and four women found Mr. Dils guiltyphoto: bals sapeurs pompiers on Friday night of the murder of two young boys and he was sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment.

One could have thought that this was an improvement over the sentence of life imprisonment that Patrick Dils received after the first trial for the same crime, on 27. January 1989.

On 13 and 14 July - firemen's 'bals' all over Paris.

The jury's decision was at least eight to four for conviction - the minimum required by French law - and came after hours of deliberation and after the state's Avocat Général had specifically asked for Mr. Dils' acquittal.

The trial was held 'in camera' because both Mr. Dils and the victims were minors at the time of the crime.

The trial also set some legal milestones in France. After serving about 14 years in prison, Mr. Dils' life sentence was quashed - which has never happened for a minor and never for a life sentence. He was retried by the Assize Court in Reims.

This was done because of the presence of a five-time convicted serial killer, placed near the scene of the crime and at about the time that it was committed in 1986. He appeared as a witness in this trial, but denied killing the two boys.

The lawyers for the victims' families did not appreciate the state attorney asking for the acquittal. At thephoto: resto les petites sorcieres time of the first trial, the state's prosecutor had a 'confession' extracted by the police to present as evidence - and according to reports, the victims' families still believe this is the 'true' truth.

More fresh-air dining in Paris last Saturday night.

Since repudiating his confession - years ago - Mr. Dils has maintained that he is innocent. He was 16 years old at the time the crime was committed.

However, since the state attorney did ask for the acquittal of Mr. Dils, the victims' families and their lawyers thought the jury would agree - so all were stunned when the jury decided otherwise.

Apparently they did so because the state's attorney did not evoke the presence of the serial killer - the only reason for the retrial - but reiterated the elements of 'evidence' presented in the first trial.

Another factor seemed to be Mr. Dils' reported impassivity during the latest trial. Before the jury left the courtroom to deliberate he told them that 'the trial had convinced him of the atrocity of the murders and the suffering of the victims' relatives.'

He added that, 'he knew he wasn't always convincing, but he was really innocent.'

A day later, Mr. Dils' attorneys, Mr. Florand and Mr. Becker, announced that the conviction would be appealed. Instead of being released on parole after serving 14 years, Patrick Dils has chosen to risk being convicted for the third time for a crime for which he claims his innocence.

This new appeal is permitted under the new law of 'presumed innocence' in France. Also, Patrick Dils may be released 'within months' because he has resumedphoto: sign, soldes a 'detention provisoire' that cannot by law exceed two years for minors.

Jurors do not have to follow the lead of the state's attorney, and they can increase sentences. What the law does require is for jurors to make their decision according to their own 'intimate convictions.'

The summer sales continue until early August in Paris.

What this jury also failed to do was make any concession to Mr. Dils age of 16 when the crimes were committed. The Council of Europe was annoyed in 1989 when this was not accorded, and even the victims' relatives were surprised allowing for age in this trial wasn't taken into account by the jury.

The court itself had enough doubt to quash the initial conviction and accord Mr. Dils a new trial. It has done this only five other times during the last century.

Basically, the jury accepted the word of a convicted serial killer, and rejected the recommendation of the state's attorney - while ignoring the claim of innocence of the defendant.

Most parties connected with the trials agree that their being held 'in camera' has made it impossible to have an opinion based on the facts of the case, because they are unknown.

At the very least, Mr. Dils' original 'confession' is thought to be tainted by the methods with which it was obtained.

No other evidence linking him to the double murders has been reported, and there has been no mention of motive or opportunity. The state attorney was reported to have pointed out in court that there was some doubt about timing - that Patrick Dils didn't have quite enough time to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Despite this it seems to be possible that he has managed to be in the wrong place for at least 14 years now, and is back in it for some time to come - until he gets his third trial for a double murder.

Other News

France's big holidays got off to a bumpy start for both drivers and air passengers. Two or three smaller airline companies are going through the process of pending bankruptcies, which left tens of thousands of passengers with tickets stranded.

At the same time, autoroute workersphoto: stairway, rue villa abida decided to hold strikes about pay - on account of the 35-hour week - and this caused huge traffic jams of the main routes to the south.

To add spice to the mixture, bus drivers in Mallorca decided to go on strike too, leaving further thousands of travellers stranded at the airport, or unable to get to it.

When necessary, streets turn into stairs near the heights of Belleville.

After Le Parisien's problems with its distributors, it decided to try and convince its readers that the Tour Eiffel's blinking lights should be maintained. These were added to the tower as a temporary measure for 2000, and would need a new installation, which could cost the city 35 million francs.

After dropping for quite some time, unemployment in France made a slight rise in May. Meanwhile, the telecommunications company Alcatel announced that it was thinking of getting out of its manufacturing businesses entirely.

A new cyclo-taxi service has started up in central Paris, employing a fleet of 18 tandem bicycles. For the beginning, the service is limiting itself to the 1st arrondissement.

Sports News

Long-time bikeracer Jeannie Longo was back in the news last week. First, by tying up the French championship for racing against the clock and second, for beating another group of opponents for another title.

This brings the total of her championships in France to 44 and her age to 42. Most of her opponents are 20 years younger. During a long career she has ridden to 660 winning places.

Internet LifeYour Paris Web URLs

If you have any favorite Paris Web sites you think other readers should know about, please send them in. If they haven't been featured before and they don't crash my browser, you'll get a modest 'thankYou' here.

If I have overlooked any of your contributions during the week, blame it on the fine weather. If there were no contributions during the week, I will assume everybody has been having their own version of it.

Once Again - Patrimonie Archéologique

Archeology is the subject of new Web sites being set up by France's Ministry of Culture, with a generic name of Patrimonie Archéologique as a staring place. Hit the link and then look for 'Expositions Virtuelles' and then 'Grands Sites Archéologiques.'

One already has its own domain names. This is theAbbaye Saint-Germain d'Auxerre. Another is the Grotte Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc.

What's the Forecast for Coming Weekend?

Right now you can dial Météo-France up on your favorite Web browser, andphoto: statue pl rhin et danube get what is actually happening with the weather right now at Météo-France's own Paris weather station located nearly next door to me on top of the modest summit of Montsouris.

Starting later this year, Météo-France will also institute its 'Vigilance-Météo' service, which will show at a glance whether you can expect hurricane-speed winds, torrential downpours, heavy storms, blizzards and/or avalanches within the next few hours in Paris.

Have you seen this figure on any coins you've brought home from France?

In general, seven-day forecasts will be available for Paris and the Ile-de-France, with special attention being given to weekends.

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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