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Story By: Joseph Golder, Sub-Editor: Joe Golder, Agency: Newsflash
A French drug dealer and his henchmen have been jailed for sentences of between 25 and 30 years for the brutal murder of a teenager they suspected of stealing from them.
The shocking murder of the student identified only by his name Sofiane, 17, took place in 2016.
His lifeless body was dumped on a road near the town of Capestang, in the Herault department, in southern France, after he was taken to the wasteland by the dealer and his henchmen, where they hit him at least 75 times, including some blows with a baseball bat.
The criminals believed that Sofiane had stolen a large some of money from the dealer, but it has never been recovered.
The defendants were found guilty after 11 hours of jury deliberations on Monday 15th March, after seven days of trial.
Hicham El Moutouakil, 37, has been jailed for 30 years, while the organiser of the murder, drug dealer Anouar Taibi, 28, was jailed for 28 years. Henchman Djamel Fellah, 37, was also jailed for 28 years.
Adame Reghi, 25, described by French newspaper Le Parisien as a small-time dealer, explained that he had wanted to “save his own skin” by beating Sofiane very violently, as he himself was suspected of having stolen money from the dealer.
Sofiane’s lifeless body was found next to that of a man named only as Edouard, 21, one of his friends. Edouard survived the ordeal and testified in court. He described the night of Sofiane’s death in detail to the jury.
Sofiane died over missing money, EUR 15,000 (GBP 12,800), and Judge Jean-Marc Soriano said that as a result of this, the dealer, Taibi, instructed his henchman to “terrorise” and “torture” three of his young customers.
The first one, who has not been named, was injured and left traumatised, the court heard. Edouard, who was an occasional cannabis user and who did not suspect how dangerous some of his acquaintances were, was seriously injured, while Sofiane died of his injuries.
He begged his torturers all night to let him live, while repeatedly stating his innocence regarding the missing money.
Sofiane was hit 75 times, of which 25 were blows to the head. The criminals used a baseball bat and other tools such as a rifle butt. His body was thrown from a moving car early that morning, 250 metres from a hospital, but by then it was already too late to save the young man’s life.
After the verdict was read out, the victim’s family had to be evacuated from court under police escort while the dealer’s family shouted insults and threats at them.
It is unclear, at the time of writing, whether the guilty parties plan to appeal their sentences.
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