Life sentence demanded in Caroline murder trial

14th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

RENNES, France, June 14 (AFP) - The prosecutor in the trial of a Spanish man accused of the rape and murder of British schoolgirl Caroline Dickinson asked for life imprisonment on Monday, arguing that Francisco Arce Montes was fully aware of his actions when he killed her.

RENNES, France, June 14 (AFP) - The prosecutor in the trial of a Spanish man accused of the rape and murder of British schoolgirl Caroline Dickinson asked for life imprisonment on Monday, arguing that Francisco Arce Montes was fully aware of his actions when he killed her.

On the last day of the week-long trial in the Brittany capital Rennes, state prosecutor Francois-Rene Aubry said that the accused was a dangerous repeat offender who showed no signs of wishing to reform, and urged the court to hand down a severe sentence.

"Taking into account the seriousness of the crime and the nature of his personality, what else could I ask for? It would be illogical, you would be taken by surprise, if I asked you for anything else," Aubry said.

He asked the court to stipulate that Arce Montes be offered no chance of parole for 22 years.

The 54 year-old drifter from the Asturias region of northern Spain is accused of smothering Caroline to death with a cotton pad as he sexually assaulted her in a youth hostel in the town of Pleine-Fougeres. He admits the facts but denies intending to kill.

However both Aubry and lawyer Herve Rouzaud-Le Boeuf representing Caroline's family said that though Arce Montes had not planned to kill her in advance, the crime was clearly deliberate and thus constituted murder.

"He says he did not mean to do it. But the jurisprudence says that it is the potential for death of an action that counts. I say that pressing very strongly on a person's mouth and nose, with at least one hand and a cotton pad and for some considerable time, I say that constitutes murderous intent," said Rouzaud-Le Boeuf.

Defence attorney Olivier Dersoir urged the court not to be swayed by the publicity surrounding the trial and to concentrate on the facts: these were that while Arce Montes had undoubtedly intended to commit a sexual assault, there was no evidence he wanted to kill.

"What caused the death was the action in which he put a hand on the victim's mouth to stop her screaming if she woke up. It was not an accident.

It was a tragedy. But it was a death he did not mean to happen," he said.

Earlier Aubry described Arce Montes as a "sexual pervert," and said neither his troubled personality nor his consumption of alcohol and anti-depressants on the night of the crime amounted to an excuse. "He is entirely responsible for his actions," he said.

And he listed the series of sexual assaults attributed to Arce Montes from the mid-1980s, starting with three rapes in Germany, attacks in France and Spain, and ending with the assault in Miami, Florida in March 2001 that led to his arrest and extradition.

"What did he do with his life except wander around Europe, going from youth hostel to youth hostel in search of young girls of 13 years of age, looking for a few seconds of sexual satisfaction?" Aubry said.

Last week the court heard how on the night of the crime Arce Montes first broke into another Brittany youth hostel where he was caught in the act of abusing a girl, after which he allegedly drove to Pleine-Fougeres in a state of sexual excitement in search of a new victim.

The case became one of France's most notorious murders, avidly followed by the British media who are attending the Rennes trial in force.

Initially dogged by accusations of incompetence, the investigation was transformed by a chance breakthrough in 2001 when an American customs officer read an account of the crime in a London newspaper and recognised Arce Montes' name. DNA evidence linked him uncontrovertibly to the crime.

The defence was to sum up during the afternoon, with a verdict from the 12-member jury by the end of the day.

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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