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French court sentences serial rapist to 20 years in prison

#French #court #sentences #serial #rapist #years #prison

A French court on Friday sentenced a man to 20 years in prison for dozens of rapes and sexual assaults he committed over a 30-year period along the border with Belgium.

Dubbed the “rapist of the Sambre” because of the river that flows through the region where he operated, Dino Scala, 61, will serve at least two-thirds of his sentence behind bars.

A former caretaker and family man seen as a pillar of the community shocked France with his 2018 arrest and subsequent trial on 17 counts of rape, 12 attempted rape and 27 assaults.

“I want to apologize to my victims,” ​​Scala said Friday before the judges retired to consider their verdict, and his voice betrayed little emotion.

Prosecutors had described the accused as “extremely dangerous” and said he embodied “the unthinkable banality of evil”.

And a specialist psychologist consulted by the court spoke of a “gap between the social face and the hidden face” of the accused.

“The law is no match for the seriousness of Scala’s crimes,” said Fanny Bruyerre, who represented nine of the victims.

The maximum penalty of “20 years is so little” for 56 “ruined lives,” she added before the verdict.

– ‘compulsions’ –

Scala confessed to around 40 of the 56 rapes and assaults he was accused of, blaming them on uncontrollable “compulsions”.

Investigators suspect that there were other victims who did not report to the police in addition to the crimes dealt with in court.

About half of the victims stayed away from the trial, with some complaining that they were ill-treated or even accused of lying when attempting to file a criminal complaint.

“I’ve been witnessing this rape for 22 years, it’s torture,” one woman told the court.

Expert testimony suggests that Scala’s frustration with the lack of recognition in his personal, professional and sporting life – he also coached a local football team – may have contributed to his desire to dominate and inflict terror on others.

But the defendant himself said it would be “impossible” for him to re-offend if released from prison.

“I’ve caused too much misery around me. When I attacked these people, I didn’t realize how serious the things I was doing were,” he told the court.

– ‘Hunter’ –

Between 1988 and 2018, the youngest victim of Scala was 13, the oldest 48, and most were attacked in much the same way — surprised on deserted streets early in the winter, strangled, and dragged into nearby bushes or trees.

Police began their search in November 1996 when a 28-year-old woman said she was raped alongside a highway near Maubeuge. Investigators found the attacker’s DNA at the scene but found no matches in police databases.

More attacks followed with more than 15 alleged victims over two years, but then reports of similar cases suddenly stopped.

Despite increased patrols, the attacker was never found and the case was closed in 2003.

Three years later, a new spate of assaults in Belgium restarted the investigation, and police began to suspect other previous cases in the area could be linked to the same man.

As recently as February 2018, when a teenager was attacked in Erquelinnes, Belgium, CCTV cameras showed a Peugeot car at the scene, and Scala was arrested a few weeks later.

Searches uncovered a knife, gloves and string that could have been used as garrottes, and DNA comparisons were made at several crime scenes.

After his arrest, he told investigators how he carried out his attacks.

“I hung out … I watched where women walked by,” he said. “I have the nature of a hunter.”

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#French #court #sentences #serial #rapist #years #prison

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