“There is a crazy world. Magistrates, investigating judges, psychiatric experts, people who are there to film, police officers… And then there is the family [de la victime]“, says Alain Jakubowicz, the lawyer of Nordahl Lelandais. For five years, he was at the heart of the “Maëlys” affair, a file which marked the career of this criminal lawyer yet experienced in this kind of criminal cases. On September 23, 2018, in an attempt to establish the exact sequence of the murder of Maëlys, the convoy organized by the investigating judges went to the supposed scene of the tragedy with Nordahl Lelandais, who had then just admitted his responsibility in the death of the girl. Back in Isère, where it all began, Nordahl Lelandais will have to replay his version of the story. In episode 6 of the podcast “Le Coupable” produced by Spotify and Europe 1 Studio, Me Jakubowicz portrays which very quickly becomes a frightening scene: “He wears a huge bulletproof vest, he who already has an imposing stature, and he has a helmet on his head. He is kept on a leash by the police. It looked like RoboCop.” And violence breaks out…
“He must mime the blows he has dealt”
For this reconstruction on the heights beyond the town of Pont-de-Beauvoisin where Maëlys disappeared, everyone is in place. With a lot of emotion, Alain Jakubowicz says again: “This is the moment when we ask [à Nordahl Lelandais] to reproduce the gestures he committed, these gestures which led to the death of the little girl in the same motor vehicle which was brought out”. In order to be able to replace the protagonists in situthe procedure is then as follows: “We put him in his driver’s seat. Then there is a mannequin, a rag doll which represents the little girl, and he must mime the blows he has dealt”, explains Alain Jakubowicz.
For investigators and magistrates, the stakes of this reconstitution are high. Through this exercise, they test the statements of the accused. But for the civil parties, starting with the parents of Maëlys who were present that day, it was a particularly difficult moment to live with. Alain Jakubowicz, an experienced criminal lawyer but also a father, is well aware of this. At the microphone of journalist Noémie Schulz, he confides: “I don’t know what can be going through the minds of the parents at that time. Would I have had the strength to be present? to that, being passive?”
A scene of unexpected violence
Faced with the demonstration of violence that ensued, the opposition between defense and civil parties faded to give way to a general shock. Nordahl Lelandais, who until then had always claimed that Maëlys’ death was “accidental”, begins to imitate repeated, violent blows to the face of the doll. His lawyer Alain Jakubowicz loses his words himself: “What we are witnessing is completely staggering. I have never seen such violence. We are all taken aback by the force that is unleashed on this mannequin. And I, I defend the one who took the life of this little girl…”, he summarizes with emotion. But Me Jakubowicz knows it: for the lawyer that he is, who has promised himself to accompany this man until his trial, it is already far too late to let go of his client…
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To find out the end of Alain Jakubowicz’s story behind the scenes of the “Maëlys” affair, listen to “Le Coupable”, an Original podcast produced by Spotify and Europe 1 Studio of eight episodes, available free of charge and exclusively on Spotify.