The Court of Appeal of Bourges decided Thursday, April 25 to grant a conditional release to Jean-Claude Romand. After a rejection by the Sentence Enforcement Court in February, the detainee appealed and again presented his reintegration project during a rehearing on 3 April. This time, the judges heard him. He should go out so 'imminent but probably not today, " according to the statements of his lawyer Me Jean-Louis Abad at AFP. The decision must be implemented by June 28th. On this occasion, Release republie this long story devoted to the course of the "false doctor" embodying one of the most famous judicial cases in France.
Since 2015, he could claim a horizon without grating or watchtowers. Yet he had never asked for it. Until this day of September 2018 when the magistrates of the court of application of the sentences (TAP) of Châteauroux saw arriving on their desk a fragment of criminal history, a file stamped "Jean-Claude Romand". Sentenced to life imprisonment plus twenty-two years of security, the one the press nicknamed "Dr. Romand" decided to apply for parole. After several postponements, it was finally examined on January 31 by the TAP. "It's a prisoner who does not pose any problem, without a disciplinary background, do we analyze in the prison administration. But the real question is: did he understand the meaning of his pain? Did he think about what he did? " This Friday, the judges followed the position of the prosecutor and decided that the doors of the prison of Saint-Maur (Indre) would remain closed. "Despite his successful execution of the sentence, the elements of the project presented and his personality do not, as is, to ensure a fair balance between respect for the interests of society, the rights of victims and the reintegration of the convicted person "said Stephanie Aouine, the prosecutor of the Republic of Chateauroux, in a press release. A quarter of a century after the fact, the personality of Jean-Claude Romand seems to always stir trouble in the eyes of magistrates.
It was at the time of the minutes typographic writing, at the time when there was still a crime of "parricide" and where we talked about "Body of the offense". The story would be almost in one sentence, the one that serves as an incipit to the order of reference before the Assize Court: "On Saturday, January 9, 1993, Jean-Claude Romand murdered his wife and two children, his father and mother, before trying, in vain, to kill the one who would have been his former mistress." Here. A man methodically killed everyone he loved. He smashed his wife's skull with a rolling pin, he looked the Three Little Pigs with his children before shooting a bullet in the head of his daughter, 7 years old, and to reserve another one for his son, 5 years old. The next day, he went to the Clairvaux-les-Lacs (Jura) family home, had lunch with his parents and, after swallowing his beans, killed them with a rifle shot. Jean-Claude Romand also eliminated the Labrador from his childhood. Then he tried to finish with his mistress. She struggled. He gave up. Finally, he wanted to kill himself by setting the house on fire. But this time, he missed.
The indictment order speaks of"annihilation", a word that, better than all the others, describes these crimes. In the same gesture, Jean-Claude Romand erased his life and all those who were part of it. During the trial in the Assize Court of Bourg-en-Bresse in 1996, everyone will seek to understand what happened to this unique son of foresters, raised by loving parents. The jurors go back meticulously chronology: the medical registration in Lyon, the average student, the repetition of the second year. "This is the beginning of my sham, says Jean-Claude Romand. I could not imagine how far she would drag me … "
From 1974 to 1986, he re-enrolled, returned after re-entry, in second year. Nobody will know, not even Florence, a cousin by marriage he married in 1980. Studies "completed", they move into a pretty pavilion on the edge of Switzerland, Prévessin-Moëns, route de Bellevue. Jean-Claude Romand invented a smooth life, in line with social imperatives: a job at the World Health Organization (WHO), high-level relations, conferences abroad.
The stage is set. A bourgeois tragedy in a quilted atmosphere: working parents, children going to catechism, Sunday meals with friends. In this world where he is "as if," his wife, Florence, watches him leave every morning under his arm. Jean-Claude Romand spends his days alone in his office car. To cover the trickery, he borrows, spades, steals, swindles. He plunders his people sparingly but cheerfully, being given 378,000 francs by his father-in-law, 50,000 by an uncle, 10,000 by relatives. A few checks here, a few others there. In total, the breach of trust will be estimated at 2.5 million francs. Who would be wary of the doctor for quiet assurance and modest modesty?
It was not until 1992, that the varnish began to crack. Florence expresses doubts. Chantal, his mistress, would like to recover the 900,000 francs she lent. Then the banks are threatening. Not to mention this friend who raises questions because the name of Romand is not on the list of WHO. To the investigating judge, to explain his murderous gesture, Jean-Claude Romand murmurs: "It may be to suppress their look." "Mythomaniac suffering from a narcissistic pathology"decide the experts.
How can one go through life with such a lack of self? Jean-Claude Romand will not really give explanations during his trial. "Fear of disappointing", bredouillera there. Or : "I have no response […]. A first lie calls another and it's for life. " David Dufresnes, the chronicler of Release, evoked in 2000 the frustration on the benches of the press. "We wanted to shake all this beautiful people: after twenty years of lies, twenty years of double life, after the fivefold murder … Nobody could be satisfied with these words:" I know, it seems unlikely ".
After the verdict condemning him to life, Jean-Claude Romand returns to prison, leaving behind the gap of incomprehension. It will engulf novelists (Emmanuel Carrère) and filmmakers (Laurent Cantet, Nicole Garcia), seizing this already fictitious existence to try to find a universal truth, to unravel the mystery of a desperately ordinary man.
Jean-Claude Romand has become a kind of reference in criminal annals. In every case involving a small or great falsifier of existence, one invariably reads the comparison with the fake doctor. As if, even more than the imprint of his crime, he had left in history that of his imposture, that of this "I" dupes.
The case is famous because it is the one of all lives. Jean-Claude Romand – with this patronymic predisposition – has pushed to the extreme what exists in everyone. He has made banal cheating a way of life, arrangements with reality, a routine, the little personal imposture, a great hoax. It is not a coincidence that he has a head of a step-neighbor, with his gilded glasses and his balding forehead, he is Monsieur Tout-le-Monde: he cheats, he erases, he lies, he scratches. In an interview, Emmanuel Carrère, author of the Adversary, will say it very aptly: he embodies this "Difference between the social self and the kind of poor little man naked in the depths of us". Or the words of his lawyer: "Jean-Claude Romand, he looks like us. He could be your son, your cousin. He is someone who is part of our universe. He was not born like that. It's life that brought him to that. " He is all those who invent themselves a little better, who rectify the social polish, discreetly adjust the costume. Perhaps, after all, he was not a big impostor, just a small faker who prospered better? Nevertheless, he lived the simulacrum more deeply than the others. Not just in the dinners in town but in the privacy, in the bedroom. Until we discover five corpses and a forger of the soul.
Finally, it is not so much a double life as a double emptiness. "A lie, normally, serves to cover up a truth, something shameful, perhaps, but real. His did not cover anything. Under the false doctor Romand, there was no real Jean-Claude Romand ", says Emmanuel Carrère. As if freedom had paradoxically come up behind bars. "In a way, it's the best place he could be. Everyone knows what he did, he does not have to hide ", the writer continues.
"He's starting again"
Detained model, solitary and surrounded by pious images, Jean-Claude Romand led a prison life smoothly. The psychiatrists who had met him at Bourg-en-Bresse prison before his trial noted: "Jean-Claude Romand seems to have found a certain mystical redemption that helps him to assume his guilt and the reality of his trial." After completing sound engineer training, he worked at sound restoration workshops for the National Audiovisual Institute.
In twenty-five years, has Jean-Claude Romand succeeded in answering all the "why's"? Those who had defeated him in front of the Assize Court? "Has he ever reinvented himself a personality or has he changed?" Wonders everyone, a sign of the eternal suspicion of duplicity hovering over him. The brother of his murdered wife, Emmanuel Crolet, strongly opposed to his release, was indignant on January 11 at the microphone of France Bleu Pays de Savoie at this evocation: "He will once again manipulate the system to achieve his ends. He did it twenty-five years ago, he starts again. " Jean-Claude Romand now has ten days to appeal the rejection decision of TAP.
At the beginning of his sentence, he sent passages from Camus to his prison visitor, including this excerpt from the fall : "The lie is a beautiful twilight that puts each object in value. We sometimes see things more clearly in the one who lies than in the one who speaks the truth. "From now on, it evolves in a world of the transparency, a world where one demands the truth "eye to eye".