A man tried for killing in Béziers one of his friends, thinking to avenge his brother, was sentenced Saturday, September 30 to 15 years in prison by the Assize Court of Hérault, which found him guilty of "murder".
The Montpellier court answered "yes", in the middle of the night, to the question of whether Kamal Hajjaj, 30, had intended to kill by shooting from his car towards a group of men in Béziers, on July 16, 2019. The attorney general had earlier requested the reclassification of the charge of "murder", punishable by 30 years in prison, in that of "intentional violence resulting in death without intent to give", punishable by a maximum of 20 years. The representative of the Public Prosecutor's Office had requested 15 years of detention, the sentence that was finally imposed on her after eight hours of deliberation.
"I saw my brother dying"
During the trial, Kamal Hajjaj, who then ran a tea room in the center of Béziers and lived with his mother, tried to explain his gesture. "I saw my brother dying," he said, mistakenly believing his brother Karim close to death, after he was injured in an argument with two acquaintances, brothers Mohamed and Rachid Lazgah. It was a 26-year-old man sitting on a bench, a friend of the accused and apparently uninvolved in the conflict between these men, who was fatally wounded by a bullet in the Devèze district.
In its verdict, the Assize Court was also much harsher than the public prosecutor towards the Lazgah brothers, who were tried alongside him. The jury found that Rachid Lazgah had committed attempted murder by shooting at Kamal Hajjaj's fleeing car and sentenced him to 12 years' imprisonment. The attorney general, ruling out the attempted murder for lack of evidence, had asked for a six-year sentence for attempted extortion. His brother Mohamed, who appeared free, was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment for extortion and arson of a vehicle, although the prosecution had requested five years against him.
The three men have 10 days to appeal their convictions.