Images without sound, but very meaningful. At the Mireille Knoll trial, the Assize Court on Wednesday broadcast a surveillance video of the bar where the two accused went after the murder of the old Jewish lady.
The images are dated March 23, 2018 at 8:04 p.m. An hour and a half earlier, the firefighters discovered the body of Mireille Knoll in an HLM building a hundred meters away, larded by eleven stab wounds and partly charred.
The investigation showed that Yacine Mihoub, neighbor of Mireille Knoll whom he had known since childhood, had invited Alex Carrimbacus, whom he had met in prison. “To have a good time” and drink glasses according to the first, for “a money plan” according to the second.
Each accuses the other of having then stabbed the 85-year-old woman – suffering from Parkinson’s disease and not moving alone – in circumstances deemed “not very credible” by investigators.
The bar under video surveillance is not very crowded, the light is subdued. Yacine Mihoub, then aged 28, enters the first, looking relaxed and in a good mood. He sits down at the bar, talks to everyone, calls out the bartender to be served.
Alex Carrimbacus, 21, does not appear to be in his normal state.
Yacine Mihoub shows him a place with his finger and the young man takes it several times to slip behind the table. He collapsed there and seemed to fall asleep with his head in his arms.
President Franck Zientara wants to know what the defendants retain from these images shot a few hours after the murder. It begins with Yacine Mihoub’s mother who appears – free – for cleaning up the murder knife.
– “As if nothing had happened” –
“Your son, he loved Mireille Knoll a lot?” Asks the magistrate, recalling that he described his neighbor as a “surrogate grandmother”. “Does his attitude surprise you?”
He must insist before Zoulika Khellaf, 61, who does not have a perfect command of French, understands the question. “Does he look like he witnessed the death of someone he loved?”
“No, it’s as if nothing had happened. Mireille is dead and he’s at the bar talking,” replies the little black-haired woman.
Yacine Mihoub had declared to have remained with Alex Carrimbacus after the murder because he was “paralyzed with fear”. “Does he seem to be afraid of Mr. Carrimbacus?” Asks the president. “No, not at all, he looks happy,” his mother replies.
The president makes Alex Carrimbacus stand up, looking like a wise boy in a blue shirt.
“I hadn’t drunk, I was still in shock, I was still scared,” he says. “I was not sleeping, I was on the lookout all the time”. The president strongly doubts: “yes, well, everyone will appreciate”.
If he was so scared, why didn’t he walk away or ask for help? “Yacine Mihoub told me that he had fallen for arms trafficking with Russians, I was afraid,” he argues softly.
A civil party lawyer is ironic, asks how Yacine Mihoub “forced” him to follow him into the bar. “We took an Uber together” is his response.
– “Who has the leadership?” –
Then comes Yacine Mihoub, rectangular glasses, white shirt.
– Did you hear what your mother said ?, begins the president.
– I had only one desire, it was to drink, justifies Yacine Mihoub.
– You’re not sad after the scene you just witnessed? Insists the judge.
– I am sad, but I do not externalize, answers the accused.
Mireille Knoll’s sons and grandson are seething.
On the video surveillance, we see Yacine Mihoub lean several times towards Alex Carrimbacus, patting him on the head. “What are you telling him?” then, asks a lawyer of the civil parties.
The first time, “I ask him if he’s okay,” the second … He thinks. “Oh yes, I ask him for a cigarette!”
Alex Carrimbacus’ lawyer had addressed himself to the police officer who had come to present the images. “From what we see in this video, who has the leadership?” He asks. “It is obvious that it is Mr. Mihoub”, assures the investigator.