"I saw my brother dying." It was in his words that Kamal Hajjaj, 30, explained why he had fired from his car towards a group of men in Béziers (Hérault), on July 16, 2019. A 26-year-old man sitting on a bench, a friend of the accused and apparently uninvolved in the conflict between the men, was fatally shot in the Devèze district.
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 action. He had mistakenly believed his brother Karim was close to death, after he was injured in an argument with two acquaintances, brothers Mohamed and Rachid Lazgah. "I rushed, I imagined my brother on the ground in the square and I may have made a film," he said in court, quoted by Midi Libre.
Guilty of "murder"
Did he intend to kill by shooting that day? The Assize Court of Hérault answered "yes". She convicted him of "murder" and sentenced him on Friday to 15 years in prison.
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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 it", 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.
The Lazgah brothers also sentenced
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.