Killers of French and Italian men sentenced

A Madagascar court handed four men the maximum sentence on Friday of hard labour for life over the mob lynching in 2013 of two Europeans and a local man, who were beaten and then burned on a beach.

Killers of French and Italian men sentenced
One of the accused hiding his face is rushed out by a marshall in Antananarivo, during the trial of 37 people accused of murder of two Europeans. Photo: Rijaso/AFP

A Madagascar court handed four men the maximum sentence Friday of hard labour for life over the mob lynching in 2013 of two Europeans and a local man, who were beaten and then burned on a beach.

The sentencing came as the court tried 37 people over the October 2013 murders, which were committed by a mob acting on false rumours of foreign involvement in the death of an eight-year old local boy and a paedophilia connection.

Among them, 25 suspects were given the benefit of the doubt and released, while another was formally acquitted.

One was sentenced to seven years of hard labour, while the rest were handed prison sentences ranging from three months to six years.

On the morning of October 3, 2013, French tourist Sebastien Judalet and Franco-Italian resident Roberto Gianfalla were attacked and brutally killed by a mob.

Hours later, the uncle of the eight-year-old boy whose death sparked the attack on Nosy Be — the idyllic Indian Ocean island off Madagascar — was also murdered.

Friday's sentencing came a day after Attorney general Jean de Dieudonne Andrianaivoson had asked for the maximum sentence for 12 of those on trial for murder and kidnapping.

He also asked the court for leniency for the other 25 suspects, including two policemen on trial for failing to assist people in danger.

One of the two officers was among those released Friday; the other has been sentenced to six months.

Most of the defendants had pleaded not guilty during the trial.

After a photograph of the brutal incident was shown in court, one of the four men sentenced to hard labour for life admitted he was “among those burning the vazahas,” using the Malagasy word for Westerners.

Fellow defendant Marcellin Tomboravo, who was sentenced to seven years of hard labour, admitted he transported one of the two murdered Europeans in his cart. His lawyer had appealed for his client's acquittal, arguing he had no choice but to obey the violent crowd.

Both the defence and prosecution teams had meanwhile said local officials should have also been probed.

Several videos of the tragedy were shown during the trial. One showed Judalet, 38, lying on the beach. A man strikes his head using a wooden stick, and with the last blow, his executioner says: “Goodbye, world.”

Gianfalla, a Franco-Italian who lived in Madagascar, was a 50-year-old cook.

Judalet, who worked as a bus driver and had been in Madagascar several times on holiday, has been cleared of all suspicions of paedophilia by French police.

There has been no evidence to date that any of the victims of the mob lynching either killed or abused the child.

The circumstances of the boy's killing have never been clarified, nor has anyone been tried for his death.

The issue of paedophilia is particularly sensitive in Madagascar where extreme poverty has led to a spike in child prostitution.

The UN in 2013 denounced what it described as the normalisation of child prostitution in Madagascar.


 Italian police arrest mafia member after three women killed in Rome

Italian police on Saturday arrested a mafia member suspected of killing two alleged Chinese prostitutes and a Colombian sex worker in Rome, local media reported.

 Italian police arrest mafia member after three women killed in Rome

The bodies of the two Chinese women were discovered in a residential building in the upmarket Prati district on Thursday morning, while the body of the South American was found in an apartment in the same neighbourhood an hour later.

All three victims were stabbed, according to Italian media reports.

According to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, footage from surveillance cameras allowed police to identify 51-year-old Giandavide De Pau, who had been prosecuted in the past for drug trafficking and sexual assault.

The suspect is reportedly a member of a mafia clan headed by Michele Senese, who is currently serving a life sentence. De Pau is believed to have been one of Senese’s closest collaborators, acting as his personal driver and handyman.

In 2008 and 2011, the suspect had also spent time in a psychiatric hospital.

It is unknown whether the suspected killer was carrying out a mafia hit or acting alone, possibly under the influence of drugs, which were found at the home of some family members where he is believed to have sought refuge after the police manhunt got underway, Corriere della Sera reported.

Several newspapers had warned of a possible “serial killer” in the Italian capital.

The body of one of the Chinese victims was spotted by a neighbour where it lay, naked on a landing. The woman, believed to be in her 40s, had suffered head and stomach injuries, the newspaper said.

When police entered her apartment, they found the body of the second Chinese woman.

Nobody in the building appeared to have heard the murders take place, according to residents.

“Everybody knew there was a house of ill repute here, I’d see people arriving at 2:00 am, 3:00 am,” a woman who lived in the building told reporters.

The body of the Colombian, who was 65, was found by a friend, Corriere della Sera said.