The three defendants have been in detention since their arrest on October 7. They were to be tried immediately, in an immediate appearance. But the criminal court of Thionville had requested additional information to clarify the case. A month and a half later, the case does not seem much clearer. “It is so badly knitted that we have filed requests for release for each of the alleged offenses,” notes one of the defense lawyers. The metaphor of knitting was indeed spun throughout the audience.
On the hunt
The procedure starts with a complaint for theft. “The gendarmes note that a team is circulating in a vehicle that has just been stolen, falsely tackled. Then they pull the thread of the ball, ”introduced the public prosecutor, Brice Partouche. The surveillance and geolocation investigation lasted three weeks. It identifies a criminal association, a theft, two attempted thefts and concealments of stolen cars in Thionville, Tucquegnieux, or even Rémeling.
According to the prosecutor, the photos taken by the investigators in the hideout and the geolocation of the vehicles confuse the three defendants and show a “ritualized” modus operandi which characterizes crimes committed in an organized gang. He points to journeys of around a hundred kilometers, cars driving at walking pace in residential areas. “These are people who are chasing the opportunity to commit break and enter,” continues the prosecutor.
The three men implicated deny en bloc. They are already known to the courts for acts of theft and concealment. One is settled in Angevillers. The other two live in a reception area for Travelers in Épinal. But they have family nearby. All refused to speak at the bar.
The many defense lawyers, them, unravel the case in turn. They denounce the absence of convincing evidence, flawed accusations, the poor quality of the photos taken during surveillance, obscure reports. “I have the impression that the gendarmes dropped the ball of wool and that they tripped over it”, image a lawyer. His colleague is surprised that in three weeks of tracking, it was not possible to catch the suspected perpetrators in flagrante delicto.
The court goes through the facts one by one. In the end, the judges rule out the aggravating circumstance of an organized gang. They pronounce the release on several facts. For the rest, they sentence Teddy Chassard, 40, and Sam Gatt, 50, to eighteen months in prison. The two men are being kept in detention. The third 29-year-old defendant, who has only three entries in the record, including only one for theft when he was a minor, bail of ten months firm, suitable for semi-freedom.