The lawyer of a driver who killed a college student appeals while his client is on the run

Sentenced to 7 years in prison, Fatah Merdji had fled during his trial, and has still not been found.

He evades justice, but does not forget the procedures. A 19-year-old man, Fatah Merdji, has appealed against his conviction for killing a schoolboy in a car in 2019 in Reims, even though he is currently on the run. According to The union it was his lawyer who took the step, so that his client could be retried.

On October 12, 2019, Valentin A., a twelve-year-old schoolboy from colleague Paul-Fort, was hit by Fatah Merdji, while he was crossing a city boulevard with his father, on a pedestrian crossing. He had been thrown 70 meters from the point of impact, while the vehicle was traveling at high speed with all lights off. Valentin A. died five days later in hospital. In the car, a rental SUV used by several young people from the Red Cross district, the driver was carrying three other people, and did not have a license. “In the neighborhood […], everyone has wind of the accident, many are aware of what happened, who is involved but no one dares to speak. It is the law of silence that prevails“Said the deputy prosecutor later to describe the atmosphere in the residential area.

The young offender, aged 18 at the time of the events, is well known to the courts, since he committed his first recorded offense at 13, was placed in a disciplinary home at 15, and has already served time in prison. . For the homicide of young Valentin, the defendant was also arrested at the Châlons-en-Champagne remand center in February 2020: he was serving a sentence there for drug trafficking. Placed back in detention, he was finally released, because the incarceration was coming to the end of the period provided for by law. He had therefore appeared free in May for his trial. When questioned, he ended up admitting that he was driving the vehicle. The court sentenced him to 7 years in prison. His acolytes were also sentenced, for non-assistance to a person in danger and removal of an object concerning a crime or misdemeanor: two years in prison, including six months in prison for Fayed Jonny, 20, and two years, including one year in prison for Youness El Hadafef, 23 years old. The fourth passenger, a minor, must be judged by a juvenile judge.

For Merdji, the court had accompanied its decision with an arrest warrant, because during the deliberation, the defendant had fled, taking advantage of the adjournment on June 1. Contacted, the Reims public prosecutor, Matthieu Bourette, told the Figaro that its “search is active“, according to the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. This did not prevent his lawyer from appealing the seven-year prison sentence.


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