Thomas Debatisse, a French street artist who spent nearly a year in a Seychelles prison, will now be able to return home as a free man. On April 27, last year, the 35-year-old from Nice, France, was accused of murdering his Franco-Congolese partner, Emmanuelle Badibanga. After a two-month trial, the jury came back with their decision on Friday, April 15. They found Debatisse not guilty of the murder.
The overwhelming majority of the jury, six out of eight, acquitted the street artist. The verdict came as a relief to his defence attorney, Basil Hoareau, who credited the victory to “teamwork between himself, Mr. Kieran Shah’s chambers, and obviously his French counsel.” “I had no doubt that the man being tried was an innocent man. In my opinion, the Seychelles police force should evaluate their protocol.
In the words of Debatisse and his lawyers, the young woman looked like she had killed herself by hanging herself with a scarf from a towel rail in her hotel bathroom.
Another defence lawyer, Richard Sedillot, expressed his delight that “the jurors, by a very substantial majority, realised what we thought all along, that Thomas was innocent.” In her son’s arms, the thirty-year-old sobbed, confiding that the verdict was “a deliverance.” “It was quite difficult,” Anne Debatisse stated.
The sister of Emmanuelle Badibanga walked out of the courtroom without saying anything. The trial was the Seychelles’ longest ever, with up to 25 people taking the stand to testify. The trial was the longest in Seychelles history, with at least 25 witnesses called to testify.