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Video by Nadia CHARBIT

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-03-27

A Paris appeal court is expected to deliver its verdict as to the role played by Corsican nationalist Yvan Colonna in the 1998 murder of prefect Claude Erignac on Friday.

The nine-judge panel of Paris' special appeal court is to return its verdict on Friday as to whether Yvan Colonna is indeed the murderer of state-appointed prefect Claude Erignac, shot dead on the street in Ajaccio, Corsica on Feb 6, 1998.

The 48-year-old shepherd and Corsican nationalist was sentenced to life imprisonment in a first trial. This time, the verdict could come with a mandatory minimum sentence of 22 years, the most severe penalty in French criminal law.
For the state prosecution, Colonna was Erignac’s “shooter, executioner, the henchman” within a commando that had a mission to kill. Six other members of the group have already been handed sentences ranging from 15 years in jail to life. Colonna and his sidekicks have “lost their share of humanity,” said state prosecutor Jean-Claude Kross.

Prosecutors also accused Colonna of having “deserted” the court after his March 11 decision not to appear on the stand to protest the judge’s refusal to hold a new reconstruction of the crime.
Colonna’s lawyers abstained from delivering a final speech in his defence and, so far, it looks as if Colonna will not address the court at all. The court, whose jury is composed of judges and not members of the public in line with laws on terrorist activities, started deliberations on Friday morning.
Colonna’s defence team has repeatedly called the court a "travesty of justice" and accused judges of being on a mission to find the defendant guilty. They plan to address the press as soon as the verdict is known.

Date created : 2009-03-27