The much-awaited murder trial began yesterday of a former French soldier who has confessed to two killings but is being investigated in relation to up to 40 cold cases.
ordahl Lelandais (38) admitted to killing an eight-year-old girl who went missing from a wedding four years ago in a mystery that gripped the country.
Police searched for her for months before arresting Mr Lelandais, also a guest at the wedding, and he led them to her remains in February 2018 after traces of her blood were found in his car.
Yesterday, he appeared in court on charges he had beaten a man to death a few months earlier. In the court in Chambery, a town in the Alps where the victim, another soldier, was last seen after leaving a nightclub, Mr Lelandais confirmed that he killed Corporal Arthur Noyer in April 2017, after picking him up as he hitchhiked.
“I killed Arthur Noyer without meaning to kill him,” Mr Lelandais told the judge.
He had told police that Mr Noyer started a fight after they stopped at a parking spot, but that he did not intend to kill him. Prosecutors say he later put the victim’s unconscious body in the car boot and drove it 12 miles away before dumping it on the side of a road.
They have charged him with voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
In court, Bernard Boullot, a lawyer for the victim’s family, said: “He had the right to live and you killed him.”
Mr Lelandais is due to go on trial next year over the death of Maelys de Araujo in August 2017. He has insisted both deaths were accidental. Fears have arisen that Mr Lelandais could be involved in up to 40 other unsolved disappearances. The trial continues.