fifteen years after the events, start of the trial at the assizes of Kéan’s father

fifteen years after the events, start of the trial at the assizes of Kéan’s father
fifteen years after the events, start of the trial at the assizes of Kéan’s father

On the bench of the civil part of the Niort court, Monday June 24, 2024, Gaëlle Coatalem presses her face against the comforters of her son, who died in 2009, and whose portrait sits to her right, in black and white. “It has been 5,293 days since Kéan left us, and fourteen years, five months and twenty-eight days that the family has been waiting for justice to be served”retraces to bar Me Yassine Maharsi, one of the civil party’s lawyers, on the first day of the trial of the child’s father.

Aged 39, Frédéric Fernandez is being prosecuted for violence against a minor leading to death without intention of causing it. Facts that this resident of La Chapelle-Saint-Laurent disputes. At the end of five days of hearing, the court will therefore have to determine, as is often the case in this type of case, whether the ultracranial bleeding diagnosed in Kéan is due to shaken baby syndrome, or to another cause. medical.

“I’ve been waiting for fifteen years”

With this specificity that almost fifteen years elapsed between the facts and their judgment. “Fifteen years later, we are faced with the memory defects of everyone, starting with the witnesses”argued the defense lawyer, Me Grégoire Etrillard, to motivate his request for annulment of the legal proceedings.

Refusal by the public prosecutor, on the grounds that “the unreasonable delay cannot lead to the nullity of the procedure”. During the suspension of the hearing, Gaëlle Coatalem welcomed this decision. “I have been waiting for justice for Kéan for fifteen years, testifies the mother, aged 19 at the time of the events. For fifteen years, I was forced to keep all the details in mind in order to recite them on the stand. » When the president of the court Anne Haye recounts these same facts, a few minutes later, tears well up in the young woman’s eyes.

In 2022, Gaëlle Coatalem began a hunger strike in front of the Niort court to obtain the trial of her ex-partner, whom she considers responsible for the death of her son, Kéan.
© (Photo NR, Camille Montagnon)

“In your first hearing, on September 13, 2012, you say that your partner gets up at 5 a.m. to give the baby a bottle. You are awakened by his crying and when you arrive in the room, his face is red, then he turns pale and starts spitting up milk. » Despite the cardiac massage provided by Frédéric Fernandez, volunteer firefighter, the baby was transferred by helicopter to the Poitiers hospital center. His death will be recorded on December 27, 2009.

In addition to cardio-respiratory arrest, “subdural hematomas with traces of recent bleeding” will be diagnosed, without it being possible « to affirm or exclude that the death was the consequence of a shaking”specifies the president, citing medical expertise.

Fifteen years later, at the Niort court, the defense lawyer requested the dismissal of the case, in the absence of sufficient medical evidence. “How do you expect me to defend myself without having access to the medical file? »he asks, arousing the impatience of the general counsel. “Only legal experts can consult this data, under medical confidentiality. These experts made a report on these seals, which was made known to all parties. »

“Time for nothing”

At the end of a new suspension of the hearing, the court will follow the opinion of the public prosecutor, rejecting the requests for opening of medical seals and referral. “We’re wasting time for nothing”we get annoyed on the civil party’s bench a little before 7 p.m., when the personality interview of the accused is only just beginning.

Today an employee of a metallurgy company in Bressuirais, Frédéric Fernandez calmly answers the court’s questions. “In 2009, I worked as a reception agent at the Cholet cinema, he explains. I came home late, around 1:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. ».

In April 2012, the couple separated “hand over the file [de la mort de Kéan] on the table “. A year after the birth of their second common child, the father was convicted by the Niort criminal court for violence against Gaëlle Coatalem. “I was four years younger than him, I was under influence”she estimates afterwards.

As the investigation progresses, the young woman becomes convinced of the guilt of her ex-companion. It will be necessary to wait until the second day of the hearing, June 25, 2024, for the first witnesses to be heard and the merits of the case to be discussed, adjourned for the benefit of procedural debates.

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