France’s gender equality minister has slammed as “totally scandalous” claims that a husband may have strangled his wife to death in a high-profile murder case because she was “overbearing”.
French IT worker Jonathann Daval, 34, on Tuesday admitted to killing his wife Alexia, 29, in a case that has gripped the country since her partially burned corpse was spotted in a wood in October.
The 29-year-old bank employee’s body was found hidden under tree branches near their town of Gray-la-Ville in eastern France.
Her husband had previously insisted that Alexia had gone jogging on October 28 and never came back.
Millions were moved by footage of the man dubbed “the perfect son-in-law” crying at her parents’ side at a press conference and even leading one of the running outings organised across the country in her memory.
But three months after her death and after hours of police questioning, Daval finally admitted on Tuesday to killing his wife.
Le Monde said that his shock avowal of guilt after three months playing the victim had unleashed a nationwide sense of “betrayal of compassion”.
“He says it was an accident, that he did not want to do it, and that he regrets it,” said his lawer Randall Schwerdorffer.
His client’s motivation, he insisted “was not criminal”.
“There were some very strong tensions in their relationship as a couple,” he said, adding that Daval had been subjected to “verbal violence” from his wife.
“Alexia had an overbearing personality, so he felt diminished, stifled. At one point too many words were said, a fit of anger proved too much, and he couldn’t control himself.”
The lawyer’s claim drew a furious response from gender equality minister Marlène Schiappa.
“I find it totally scandalous to tell us that ‘she has an overbearing personality, and that’s why she may have been murdered’,” the minister told RTL.
“By saying that, you legitimise femicide, you legitimise the fact that every three days, a woman is killed by her partner, and I find it extremely dangerous to relay that,” she said.
She added: “It’s not a row, it’s not a crime of passion, it’s a murder. We must stop playing down conjugal violence, stop trying to find excuses. Nothing, nothing justifies beating one’s wife or partner.”
The lawyer refused to leave it there, claiming that “lots of people talk and create controversies without any deep knowledge of the case”.
“Lots of journalists knew about the violence at the heart of the couple and that Alexia was behind this violence,” he said.
Daval maintains that he acted alone and insists he did not set fire to his wife’s body.
The murder case appalled the couple’s quiet town, with nearly 10,000 people turning out for a silent march in her memory. It prompted about 100 prominent French women to urge President Emmanuel Macron to launch an “emergency plan” to curb sexual violence.
Initially questioned as a witness, Daval explained scratches and bite marks on her hands as coming from an argument with his wife that turned physical on the day before her disappearance.
Police arrested Daval on Monday after uncovering fresh evidence.
A neighbour had reported hearing a car leave the couple’s home on the night before Alexia was reported missing. This tallied with a tracking device on his work car, whose tyre tracks were also discovered close to where Alexia’s body was found.
A source close to the inquiry also said the body was covered in a sheet that was thought to come from the couple’s home.
Mrs Daval’s parents were said to be “flabbergasted”.
“They didn’t see it coming at all, they want to understand,” said their lawyer Jean-Marc Florand.
But he said they rejected the claim it was “an accident”.
“When you strangle someone with bare hands who you can look in the eyes, you can’t say it’s an accident,” he said. “The play he acted out will cost him very dear in the jurors’ eyes.”
Daval has been charged with “murdering one’s spouse” and faces life in prison at the end of a trial due next year.
Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/31/french-minister-criticises-scandalous-claim-husband-murdered/