Nahed Daada and Laurent Lugrezi, who were sentenced on Friday to 30 years in prison for the seizure and subsequent death of 44-year-old father Frédéric Castellano, have appealed. A new trial will take place in either Draguignan or Aix-en-Provence in the coming months.
The verdict, delivered after seven hours of deliberation, met the demands of the Attorney General but failed to satisfy the four defense attorneys, who pleaded for an acquittal.
Me Paul Sollacaro and Me Audrey Vazzana (for Nahed Daada), Me Luc Tran Duy and Me Stéphanie Keita (for Laurent Lugrezi) made no secret of their clients’ intentions after the verdict was announced.
The operators of the La Terrazza restaurant in Mougins have always denied any involvement in the disappearance of Frédéric Castellano, a resident of Roquefort-les-Pins, who has not been found since July 29, 2014.
The missing man’s children and wife are convinced he is dead and the suspects involved. They had taken the convictions with relief.
In a seven-page judgment, the Alpes-Maritimes Assizes set out the arguments that led to a conviction.
“The presence of Frédéric Castellano at La Terrazza is confirmed by the two accused. He would have eaten with a person whose existence is only clear from the statements of the accused.
– They recall, from their first listening, the possibilities of escaping abroad by Frédéric Castellano, showing a desire to cover their tracks.
– The missing person’s phone is no longer active after 5:42 p.m., with the exception of a text message addressed to his wife at 11:19 p.m., the terms of which do not correspond to the couple’s degraded climate at the time. No further signs of life are then objectified.
– The reality of the kidnapping and death of Frédéric Castellano is supported by the arson in Grasse, residence of the castle where part of the Daada family lives. Clamps, socks with reinforced tape are found among the victim’s personal belongings. Nahed Daada is then identified by Sofien Madjoub as one of the arsonists, even if she withdraws.
– If the existence of threats and pressure had already been mentioned during the investigation by Jérôme, a witness to the arson, they took shape at the hearing with regard to the systematic reversal of all the prosecution witnesses.
– Laurent Lugrezi drove to Corsica in a hurry on August 7th in the morning to return on August 8th in the morning, the registered vehicle does not correspond to his personal car.
– A cigarette butt containing Laurent Lugrezi’s DNA was discovered in the burned box.
– Nahed Daada used a dedicated phone with Castellano, two phones that have stopped working as of July 28. While he persistently called her in the days before the facts, he no longer calls her after this date.
– 80,000 euros that were supposed to go to the restaurant’s accounts were used by Frédéric Castellano to compensate other creditors. To keep the restaurateurs waiting, Frédéric Castellano wrote three deposit checks on July 11 as proof that the debt had not been paid.
All of these incriminating elements were vigorously contested by the defense. In particular, the possible camouflage provided by a plaster wall of a double door leading directly into the restaurant’s garages, as well as the presence of bullet holes in the common areas, which were previously impossible.