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a “model” man in the dock

The Montreal-la-Cluse post office (Ain), in December 2014.

“Helpful, educated, upright, wise” : the relatives of Mamadou Diallo, accused of the bloody murder of a postwoman in 2008, drew up, Monday, March 28, a glowing portrait of the one who has always denied his involvement in the crime.

“From the beginning I declare that I am innocent, I had nothing to do with the death of this poor woman”assured the 32-year-old accused, dressed in a loose white shirt, on the first day of his trial before the Assizes of Ain, in Bourg-en-Bresse.

Thirteen years after the fact, at the end of a long investigation which for a time pointed to Gérald Thomassin as a suspect, ex-hope of French cinema who became marginal and then disappeared since 2019, Mamadou Diallo is the only accused of the murder of Catherine Burgod.

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This 41-year-old counter clerk, then mother of two children and five months pregnant, was discovered bathing in a pool of blood in the Montreal-la-Cluse (Ain) postal agency on December 19, 2008. At the helm on Monday, one of the people who discovered the body mentioned ” a butcher shop ” ; twenty-eight stab wounds were recorded on the victim’s body.

A booty of 2,490 euros

If the villainous track was quickly favored, with a loot valued at 2,490 euros, the investigators have long struggled to collect evidence, due, in particular, to eyewitnesses. Their suspicions first fell on Gérald Thomassin, who was then residing opposite the small post office and whose behavior had aroused suspicion. “This track, we believed in it”admitted to the bar the former director of the investigation, Emmanuel Roy.

But in 2017, the case rebounded when a match was established between the DNA taken from a coin mechanism and a bag found near the body of the victim and that of Mamadou Diallo, who, at the time of the events, was doing an internship near Montreal-la-Cluse. The accused admitted having gone to the post office on the morning of the murder, but claims to have discovered the body of the forty-year-old and fled, panicked, after seizing a wad of banknotes. “A few 20 euro notes”according to his lawyer, Sylvie Noachovitch.

Mamadou Diallo does not have an ideal culprit pedigree. His criminal record mentions only speeding, and those who attended him draw a very flattering portrait, starting with his relatives. “He is a role model for us”assured Monday at the bar his older brother, black shirt and pants, boasting a person “very helpful, very willing, pleasant”, that he doesn’t have “never seen angry”.

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“He’s my sun, I wanted to have children with him, buy an apartment, I know the purity of his heart. I wish you could read in him”then confided, very moved, Elisa, companion of the accused.

A former employer, for whom the accused worked between 2012 and 2018 as an ambulance attendant and taxi driver, entrusted his “great amazement” in the face of accusations against this discreet former employee and “appreciated”.

” I was afraid “

A little borrowed at the time of being questioned about his career, the accused, by his own admission ” impressed “ by his trial, sees himself as “someone who likes to help others”.

“That vocation, that day, you did not have it”sends him the lawyer for the civil parties, Séverine Debourg, reproaching him for having preferred to flee the scene of the crime by pocketing money rather than calling for help.

” I was afraid “replies the accused, who fears a ” miscarriage of justice “ and expressed his sympathy to the victim’s family.

“We are looking for a culprit (…) but you must not make a mistake, because, there again, it would be a monstrous miscarriage of justice”said his lawyer, who accuses the investigators of having overlooked other leads, such as unidentified DNA traces or that of a blue-green car seen that morning near the post office.

The accused, some of whose statements to the investigators were changing or even inaccurate, promised to ” to tell about [sa] truth this week », without however quite measuring the ambiguity of these words. For his part, M.and Debourg wishes “bring forth what will be the judicial truth” of a case with many gray areas.

The accused faces life imprisonment. The verdict is expected on April 4.

The World with AFP

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