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27th September 2022
WORLD NEWS

Maëlys De Araujo: Suspect Facing Life Imprisonment

Murder Of Maëlys: Family Relieved By Court's Decision
Murder Of Maëlys: Family Relieved By Court's Decision

Nordahl Lelandais could be spending her entire life in prison, as prosecutors are demanding life imprisonment for him over the kidnapping and murder of Maëlys De Araujo.

According to the report by AFP, the Advocate General ended his requisitions on Thursday by describing Nordahl Lelandais as an “absolute social danger”.

Life imprisonment, together with a 22-year security sentence, was requested Thursday against Nordahl Lelandais for the kidnapping and murder of Maëlys De Araujo in 2017 during a wedding. At almost 39, he is on trial for the kidnapping and murder of Maëlys De Araujo, as well as for sexual assaults against two little cousins ​​then aged 4 and 6, during the summer of 2017.

“I will ask you to declare Nordahl Lelandais a major criminal, a major predator,” said Advocate General Jacques Dallest, describing the accused, tried since January 31 before the Assizes of Isère, as “absolute social danger”. “Maëlys was the child at his mercy, it could have been another child. Obviously the motive is sexual,” he said, calling the former soldier an “emotionless” man.

In his argument, the lawyer also mentioned the “worrying” factors of the accused’s personality, his “dangerousness” and his “lack of perspective” on his actions. Before him, the five other lawyers for the civil parties also drew an extremely gloomy portrait of the accused, AFP report added.

Nordahl Lelandais admitted to having “voluntarily” killed Maëlys

Sitting in his box in a light shirt, the accused gave a slight no of his head when Jacques Dallest asked for life. During the debates, Nordahl Lelandais delivered fluctuating versions of the disappearance of Maëlys , varying in particular on the circumstances of the kidnapping of the little girl who, according to him, would have climbed of her own free will into his car.

The ex-soldier admitted during the trial to have killed “voluntarily” Maëlys by evoking an attack of panic and a “hallucination”, explaining to have seen the face of Arthur Noyer on that of the girl. But he repeated that he never had any sexual intention towards her. 

He claimed to have kicked her in the face, in a sudden outbreak of violence, minutes after taking her from the village hall where he had met her shortly before, during a wedding party.

Nordahl Lelandais had already been sentenced in May 2021 to twenty years’ imprisonment for the murder of Arthur Noyer, a young alpine hunter whom he had hitchhiked one night in April 2017 in Chambéry (Savoie).

The defence argument is expected on Thursday afternoon and the verdict on Friday, after three weeks of debate. The accused himself should be able to speak one last time on Friday morning before the deliberations.

How Nordahl Lelandais Kidnapped And Killed Maëlys: The Story:

According to the report by Associated Press some weeks ago, the drama started with the disappearance of 8-year-old Maëlys de Araujo at a wedding in the French Alps. After a massive search that drew nationwide attention, investigators identified a wedding guest as the main suspect. But that was just the beginning: The investigation led authorities to suspect the man in other crimes around France.

Dog trainer Nordahl Lelandais goes on trial Monday in Grenoble accused of kidnapping and killing Maëlys. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

The search for Maëlys, and the gruesome discovery of her body six months later after Lelandais admitted to killing her, gripped France and tore the girl’s family apart.

Lelandais had not originally been invited to the wedding on Aug. 26, 2017, in the town of Pont-de-Beauvoisin. But he had phoned the groom the day before, who said Lelandais could come to the reception.

Lelandais showed up around midnight for dessert — and to provide cocaine to two guests who had asked him for it, according to witness accounts seen by The Associated Press.

He invited Maëlys to see his dogs, so she got in his car to look at them, according to investigators. Around 3 a.m., the girl’s mother alerted wedding guests that she was missing, and they started searching for her in vain.

Investigation of the suspect’s phone found that he put it on “airplane mode” twice that night. His car, an Audi A3, was spotted by a video surveillance camera at 2:47 a.m. with a small passenger, according to the investigation documents.

Lelandais then returned to the wedding, seemingly unconcerned about Maëlys while everyone else was looking for her, according to witness accounts. He left the wedding before the police arrived at 4:15 a.m.

He was identified as a suspect within days. For the next six months, he denied any involvement in the disappearance of Maëlys despite evidence accumulating against him.

Then in February 2018, after a trace of blood was discovered in the trunk of his car thanks to extensive scientific analysis, Lelandais confessed to investigators: “This poor little girl, I killed her involuntarily,” he said, apologizing to the parents, according to investigators. He told police where to find her body, and they dug up the child’s small bones in a forest.

Lelandais told investigators that Maëlys started crying in an “incomprehensible” way and that he punched her several times violently in the face, without intending to kill her.

“I don’t know what happened in my head,” he said.

In recalling the killing, he made a reference to another man, Arthur Noyer, a soldier who had disappeared earlier in 2017 from a gay nightclub in another region of the Alps. That prompted investigators to take a new look at Noyer’s disappearance. His skull was later found nearby.

Lelandais acknowledged accidentally killing Noyer after getting in a fight with violent blows. Last year, Lelandais was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for Noyer’s murder.

Lelandais told investigators of his sexual attraction for little girls. He described being ashamed of this, and acknowledged heavy use of alcohol and drugs.

In the Grenoble trial, Lelandais will also be tried for sexual violence against two cousins, aged 5 and 6, committed the same summer of 2017 while he was on vacation in southern France.

He confessed to abusing them while they slept. A video of one of the scenes was found on his phone.

Lelandais was also indicted in the Ardennes in northern France for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old cousin. And police have studied whether Lelandais could have played a role in other unsolved crimes around France.

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