On February 19, 2021, the city of Pau was the scene of a violent assassination. Cyril Pierreval, head of the asylum unit at the Isard COS Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers (Cada), was stabbed to death in his office. The autopsy revealed 15 stab wounds, half of them to the chest and neck. Almost three years later, Sheriff Hamed Shogar, a 40-year-old Sudanese then in an irregular situation, is tried for "murder" since Monday, September 25, and until Wednesday before the Assize Court of Pyrénées-Atlantiques.
He seemed to hold the association responsible for the non-renewal of his residence permit. The tragedy left a deep trauma for the victim's loved ones. His wife's lawyer, Alexandrine Barnaba, spoke to Le Figaro at the end of the first day of hearing.
THE FIGARO. - This day was the first when your client could confront the person responsible for the death of her husband. How did this first day of the conference go?
Alexandrine BARNABA. - During the investigation, my client had indicated that she wanted to see the eyes of the one presented as the murderer of her lover. She had things to say to him. And then the audience approached and emotionally and psychologically, they were ultimately not able to. Reliving the trauma was unbearable for her. She chose not to attend the trial.
How has she been since the tragedy?
My client is devastated. It's been two and a half years and she's not recovering. Not attending the hearing is not just a form of protection, it is survival. Following this terrible day in February 2021, she made the choice to move away from Pau, because every street in the city reminds her of the man she loves, every plot evokes happy memories. Like Cyril Pierreval, my client works in the social sector. They also planned to move to Brittany to open a reception structure. She has since drowned in work. Life had to be sweet and turned out to be cruel.
Can you describe the victim, this 46-year-old father, professionally?
Cyril Pierreval was devoted to others. He took his job, helping migrants, very much to heart. The people who knew him unanimously described him as a calm man, in empathy and benevolence towards others.
Why was Cyril Pierreval targeted by the accused?
The investigator who testified on the stand explained to us that the accused, a Sudanese man convicted twice of acts of violence, had not had his residence permit renewed. He did not accept this decision. He presented himself several times at the Cada Isard COS (reception center for asylum seekers, Editor's note.) and was directed to the head of service, Cyril Pierreval. The latter advised him to send a fax to the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA), which he would not have supported.
Did a fight break out between the two men?
The Assize Court has not yet questioned the accused on the facts. According to previous statements by Sheriff Hamed Shogar, an altercation did take place, but Cyril Pierreval's colleagues present in the annex offices heard no sound of fighting, only cries of pain.
On the first day of the hearing, the accused claimed that he "did not intend to kill him". How do you take this statement?
Again, the accused has not yet been questioned about the facts. But there remains a bundle of elements, including his previous statements. On Monday, the investigator recalled that the victim had been stabbed 15 times with a kitchen knife of 27 cm, with a blade of 15 cm particularly sharp. One of the blows to the abdomen penetrated almost the entire blade, causing a hemorrhage that contributed to the death of Cyril Pierreval.
The accused was already known to have assaulted his roommate in an apartment in the Cada as well as to have assaulted a fellow prisoner in prison. Was there a failure of the administration?
We must put the facts in context: we are in February 2021, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. His residence permit was first extended by six months, then the OFRPA summoned him twice to notify him of the end of his stay. But he did not respond to these summonses. So things were going to move, his ability to stay in the territory was going to be taken away from him and he felt it.
Do we know why the person concerned was trying at all costs to avoid a return to his country of origin?
According to his statements, Sheriff Hamed Shogar left Sudan because a member of his family was an activist and in turn he also became a target. He fled via Libya, Syria, Turkey and Greece. He was ready to do anything to avoid going back to his country. He has stated that he would rather go to prison in France than return to his country of origin.
The accused was therefore known as a violent man. Should Cada workers have been better protected?
This is one of the questions my client can't help but ask. The passage to the act of the accused was the translation of a rage, an anger, fundamentally linked to his journey. How could someone with a violent past, already sentenced to prison, end up alone in the victim's office? Was it not possible to put in place an internal protocol to avoid this dramatic situation?