Michel Henry

Agnelet, The Man No One Liked Publication date : September 11, 2008

Maurice Agnelet: guilty without evidence. When Agnès Le Roux, 29, disappears on November 1st 1977, her lover, Maurice Agnelet, becomes the prime suspect. But there is no case against him.

The police enquiry falters. Agnelet is indicted and incarcerated, but then in 1985 the case is dismissed due to lack of evidence. The lawsuit seems over, but then legal proceedings begin all over again. Agnelet is accused once more in 2000, then acquitted in 2006 on the basis of reasonable doubt.

Finally, the case turns against him. In 2007, the appeals court sentences him to twenty years' imprisonment for the murder of Agnès Le Roux — thirty years after her mysterious disappearance. Yet no recognised, objective or conclusive evidence has been found. The investigation was faulty, the body was never found, and the circumstances of the alleged crime remain unclear. The accusation is based solely on Agnelet's scheming personality and on his bizarre, contradictory behaviour.

The Agnès Le Roux case — now known as the Agnelet case — leads us to re-examine the way justice is meted out. How much evidence is necessary to sentence a human being? Not much, it would seem, and that is the major failing of the French judicial system.

Maurice Agnelet has now placed his fate in the hands of the final Court of Appeal, which is yet to rule on his request for a retrial. Will the 70-year-old Agnelet be granted a third trial?

Set in the world of gambling and casinos, this is an account of an appalling miscarriage of justice (no corpse was ever found).

A journalist at the French daily Libération since 1985, Michel Henry specialises in legal affairs and in courtroom reporting. At present he is the paper's regional correspondent for Marseille and for the Provence-Côte d'Azur region.