Trial begins for French youth accused of burning alive teen girl

The killing of 15-year-old Shaina shocked France – Copyright AFP François NASCIMBENI

Béatrice JOANNIS

A man went on trial in France on Monday facing accusations of stabbing and then burning alive a 15-year-old girl in 2019 who was likely pregnant by him at the time.

The killing of the secondary school pupil, named only as Shaina, amplified concerns in France over the numbers of young women murdered by their partners and also their vulnerability to bullying on social networks.

The man, who was aged 17 at the time, is accused of luring Shaina to a shed in the town of Creil north of Paris to kill her and burn her body.

As he has always done, “he disputes the charges and screams his innocence,” his lawyer Adel Fares said ahead of the hearing, adding he will seek an acquittal. 

Thin with his long hair tied in a bun, the accused gave his identity in a calm and youthful-sounding voice at the opening of the hearing where restrictions prevent the media from identifying him. 

“The family and I are determined that the truth emerges. This truth is linked to the guilt of the accused,” said the lawyer of Shaina’s family, Negar Haeri.

Police found the almost entirely charred body of the teenager in October 2019 after receiving a tip-off. 

The post-mortem forensic examination revealed “multiple wounds” inflicted by a knife but also that Shaina was still breathing at the start of the fire.

The day before, she had gone out after a family dinner. In her handbag relatives had found a positive pregnancy test.

According to various examinations, the teenager, who had undergone an abortion a few months earlier, was most likely starting a new pregnancy.

She attributed paternity to the accused, with whom she had had a relationship, according to the investigation.

As well as the shocking nature of the killing, the case has made waves in France as two years earlier Shaina was the victim of sexual assault, for which four other young people were sentenced Thursday on appeal to suspended sentences ranging from six months to two years in prison.

Humiliating images of her assault were shared on the messaging app Snapchat with the aim, according to the lawyer, of showing Shaina as a person “who they can sleep with but also get rid of”.

According to the family’s lawyer, Haeri, her death was “the end point of a long period of suffering”.

The number of so-called femicides increased by 20 percent in France in 2021 compared to the previous year, with 122 women killed by their partner or ex-partner, according to the government.

Trial begins for French youth accused of burning alive teen girl
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