Sihem was killed by a relative with whom he supposedly had a “relationship…

Found dead on Thursday, a week after his disappearance, Sihem, 18, was killed by a relative. But if this 39-year-old man says that he has a “romantic relationship” with her, this link is strongly denied by the victim’s family.

The girl’s body was found around 1:00 am Thursday, on the side of a remote road in Salles-du-Gardon, a village on the border of La Grand Combe (Gard), where she lived.

The investigators were led by the suspect himself, the former partner of his cousin, a man who has been convicted several times and will face the assizes on Wednesday, due to armed robbery.

Heard under police custody since Tuesday, the alleged killer admitted on Wednesday night to killing the girl, explained the prosecutor of the Republic of Nîmes, Cécile Gensac, in a press conference. The body found “conforms in all respects” to the description of Sihem, although scientific investigations still need to formally confirm its identity, the magistrate specified.

The man assured that “the young woman was killed within the framework of an argument related to their romantic relationship”, explained Ms. Gensac, which determined that the suspect was charged and remanded in custody.

“This romantic relationship, nothing is known about it”, replied in Paris the lawyer of Sihem’s family, Me Mourad Battikh: this assumption “is only the version” of the suspect and it “may never exist, ” he insisted.

“Sihem sees this gentleman as a nephew who sees his uncle,” said Battikh, explaining that the girl often takes care of the children of her cousin, the former partner of the suspect. . The latter, placed in police custody at the same time as him, was released.

– “Loved and appreciated by all” –

“Beautiful as the sun”, “very close to his family and everyone he can serve”, Sihem “always to share, loved by everyone, happy to live and the life in front of him”, explained by Me Battikh, assuring that the family “showed great dignity” in the face of the tragedy, despite its “deep anger”.

“I helped a person who decided to face his heavy responsibility for the disappearance of Sihem and ended an unbearable suspense for his relatives by guiding the investigators,” said Jean- Marc Darrigade of AFP. the alleged killer’s lawyer: “He knew his crime was unforgivable, but his silence would have only made it worse.”

Convicted five times for property damage and eight times for acts related to driving a vehicle, according to Ms. Gensac, the suspect was sentenced to 12 years in prison in April 2015 for robbery with a weapon in the court of the Assizes of Gard, a sentence he finished serving in February 2021. And he is again under judicial supervision , in a similar case where he will appear again in the same Assize Court on Wednesday.

The young woman “communicated for the last time with friends at midnight” on January 25, when she was “going to leave her house, probably to join someone she knows”, specified Wednesday the prosecutor of Nîmes , announcing the opening. in the investigation for kidnapping and forced confinement.

The investigators initially examined the path of a possible kidnapping linked to the facts to “get funds”. But even the overflights of the sector by helicopter, or the use of tracking dogs, or the searches carried out made it possible to find him.

The number of feminicides increased by 20% in France in 2021 compared to last year, with 122 women killed under the beating of their spouse or former spouse, against 102 in 2020, according to a report published in August 2022 by the Ministry of the Interior. The lower toll in 2020, with 102 women killed compared to 146 in 2019, is remarkable, not knowing what role periods of incarceration and curfew played there.


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