Vaucluse: Was Michaël, 30, killed in an ambush because he was homosexual?

An organized gang allegedly attacked several homosexual men after arranging a meeting for them via a dating site.

One of the attacks turned into a tragedy: Michaël, 30, was found dead in his apartment.

A team of “Seven to Eight” carried out the investigation.

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Michaël lost his life at the age of 30, on March 6, 2023, in the living room of his apartment in Sorgues (Vaucluse), not far from Avignon. His body was found with a pillow on his head. The autopsy concluded that “probable death by suffocation”. “He must not have died for nothingtestifies his mother, Pascale, to TF1, as part of the ‘Sept à Huit’ investigation broadcast this Sunday, May 26, to see at the top of this article. These people must be judged. This is why I am speaking today. And to prevent there being other victims. This is not acceptable, what is happening.” For those close to the victim, there is no doubt: the young man, contacted beforehand via a dating site, was the target of a homophobic ambush.

Thanks to video surveillance images filmed on the evening of the tragedy in the street where Michaël lived, investigators traced the sequence of events, until they identified a group of five people who were renting an Airbnb in a building in the center of Avignon. . Among them, Michaël’s last correspondent on the telephone, and two alleged accomplices. Aged around twenty, all were already known to the police for violent thefts. If, during their police custody, they denied the homophobic nature of the attack, one of the accused, the same one who had contacted Michaël on a dating site, explained that he had targeted homosexuals, because that he thought they had “more money than the others”.

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A week after the events, on March 14, 2023, a man we will call Arnaud presented himself at the Avignon police station to file a complaint, recounting an attack very similar to that of Michaël. He then indicates that he chatted with a man on the site Coco.gg, widely used by young homosexual men because it offers complete anonymity and does not keep records of discussions. Then having invited his interlocutor to his home, in a district on the outskirts of Avignon… Before coming face to face, at the time of the meeting, with two armed individuals.

“When I opened the door, one of them put a gun to my head. He threw me to the ground, I was hit in the face, in the ribs… They told me : ‘Dirty faggot…’ Once they searched and found my trunk, they became very threatening, angry and violent, trying to get me to open it for them. At that moment, I took a stab in my hand. They took my car keys, my house keys and everything I had in cash, 3,000 euros.”remembers today, at the microphone of “Sept à Huit”, the man who has since left the region to escape his trauma.

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The investigators made the connection with Michaël’s death all the more quickly as they identified a third victim who was allegedly attacked by the same gang, this time in Marseille, a week before the tragedy in Sorgues. Same discussion on a dating site, same procedure, with making an appointment then beating by two men to steal his property… He had not filed a complaint and explained this as follows during his hearing: “I was afraid of reprisals from these people because they were organized and violent. They had my address. I felt guilty for having agreed to a meeting without thinking about the possible consequences. I blamed myself. “

“There is no trace of homophobia in my client’s comments, in any capacity whatsoeverassures the lawyer of one of the suspects. I think two homosexual victims were chosen because this is a population that is perhaps more vulnerable than others in certain circumstances. It was about getting someone to open their door to rob them.” For Michaël’s family, on the other hand, the homophobic character “flow of spring”. According to his mother, “The way they operate is very thoughtful”, because “homosexuals are seen as weak people. They often do not dare to file a complaint, they are ashamed and sometimes their family is not aware” of their sexual orientation.

At this stage, justice did not accept the homophobic intention. The suspects, indicted for murder and aggravated robbery or complicity, remain presumed innocent. They risk up to 30 years in prison… Or life imprisonment, if the homophobic character was retained. In a survey posted online in April 2023, Mediapart had counted 300 homophobic ambushes from 2017 to 2021, or around one per week. A figure undoubtedly underestimated given the number of victims who do not dare to file a complaint, or those for whom homophobic intent is not noted. On May 16, the Jean Jaurès Foundation published a report devoted to the resurgence of these ambushes throughout France. Luc Di Gallo, deputy mayor of Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis), was the victim, in June 2023, of an attack similar in every way in a park in his town.


Hamza HIZZIR | Report “Sept à Huit” Christophe Dubois, Pierre-François Lemonnier

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