“The justice of men is gone”. On Friday, Nordahl Lelandais was sentenced to life imprisonment, accompanied by a 22-year security sentence, for the kidnapping, kidnapping and murder of Maëlys but also for the sexual assaults of two little cousins and the detention of child pornography. A verdict in accordance with the requisitions of the Attorney General.
The person concerned indicated, through his lawyer, that he would not appeal against this conviction. How to understand this pain? 20 minutes answers your questions.
Why a security sentence?
“The security sentence is a period which applies automatically in terms of a criminal sentence”, indicates Jacques Dallest, the public prosecutor of the Assize Court of Isère. The law is thus made. “This period can be increased by 18 years, 22 years, or even beyond”, he specifies. This means that during this period, the accused cannot obtain an adjustment of sentence. Or ask for it.
In France, imprisonment “until death” does not exist. The “real” or “incompressible” life sentence, the security period of which is “unlimited”, remains the most important criminal sanction. But it is extremely rare. It only applies to murders with rape, torture or acts of barbarism on a minor under 15, for murders in an organized gang or assassination of a person in authority (policeman, magistrate, prison guard, gendarme ) and terrorist crimes.
Even in the event of an “incompressible” life sentence, the detainee nevertheless retains a slim possibility of going out one day since the law provides that after 30 years spent in a cell, he can apply for release.
Since its creation in 1994, only five people have been convicted there: Pierre Bodein in 2007, Michel Fourniret in 2008, Nicolas Blondiau in 2013, Yannick Luende Botelo in 2016. To date, none of these convicts has benefited from a sentence arrangement. Finally, remains the case of Christian Beaulieu. The man had also received an incompressible sentence in December 2007, but his conviction was reduced to 30 years’ imprisonment after his appeal trial.
Why a period of 22 years for Nordahl Lelandais?
This is the maximum sentence that could be imposed in the Maëlys case. The reason: the accused was not prosecuted for the rape of the child. If that had been the case, the security sentence would have been 30 years.
In his indictment, Jacques Dallest shared his intimate conviction with the jurors, namely that the girl had been kidnapped and killed for “sexual reasons”. “Was it to touch him or something worse?” I don’t know, but it was to engage in sexual acts, the nature of which I don’t know,” he argued. Otherwise how to explain that Maëlys’ dress and panties were “lacerated with a blunt object”. How to explain that locks of hair were also cut? The experts were formal on this point. It couldn’t be the work of an animal. Only, in the file, “the material elements are lacking”.
The remains of the little girl remained six months in the forest of Attignat. His body was particularly damaged when it was discovered. His clothes, too. The gendarmes could not find evidence attesting to a passage to the act. Lelandais was therefore not prosecuted for “murder preceded by rape”.
When can Nordahl be released?
Having already spent four years in detention, the convict will have the possibility of applying for release in 18 years. But only the sentence enforcement judge will be able to decide on a sentence adjustment after having sought the opinion of three medical experts responsible for examining “the convicted person’s state of danger”.
On this point, the psychiatric experts were unanimous: it remains “high”, just like the “risk of recidivism”. “A psychopath does not change”, even recalled Paul Bensussan. Jacques Dallest also considered that Nordahl Lelandais represented “an absolute social danger”. At this stage, there is nothing to confirm that he will be released in 20 years.
In French judicial history, releases of lifers (with security sentences) remain rare. Lucien Léger was released in 2005, after 41 years behind bars. Patrick Henry was released in 2001, after eight requests for release. However, he returned to prison two years later, after trafficking hashish. Jean-Thierry Mathurin, whose security sentence was 18 years, was released on parole after 25 years. Jean-Claude Roman, whose security sentence was 22 years, emerged in 2019, after 26 years of detention.
On the other hand, the “Shadow Killer”, Marcel Barbeault has been incarcerated since 1976. Just like the serial killers Francis Heaulme, Guy Georges and Emile Louis.
Does the conviction for the murder of Arthur Noyer count?
Yes, she will remain registered in the criminal record of Nordahl Lelandais. But in France, convictions do not accumulate. The heaviest sentence takes precedence and remains the only one carried out.