Europe 1 with AFP // Photo credit: Loïc Venance/AFP 15:33 p.m., December 07, 2023

A 50-year-old man was sentenced on Thursday to 28 years in prison by the Paris Assize Court, which found him guilty of stabbing his girlfriend to death in December 2015. Facts that he has constantly denied, even after the verdict was announced: "But it's not me!"

A 50-year-old man was sentenced Thursday in Paris to 28 years in prison, found guilty of stabbing his mother-in-law to death in late 2015, facts he has consistently denied. The Paris Assize Court "was not convinced by your protestations of innocence," the president told the accused. Cyril Berger, who appeared free during his trial, will sleep in prison.

The court took into consideration the defendant's "criminal determination" and his "lack of empathy," noted in psychiatric reports, the court said. When asked by the president if he understood the verdict, Cyril Berger replied, in tears: "Yes, but it's not me! It's crazy!" His lawyers immediately announced their intention to appeal.

His DNA was found under the victim's fingernail

On 18 December 2015, 75-year-old Odile de Moro Giafferri was found dead with 30 stab wounds at her home in the capital's affluent 17th arrondissement. On the night of the incident, her son had taken refuge at his neighbour's house with a knife in his hand, claiming that his brother-in-law, Cyril Berger, had just stabbed his mother and that he had managed to get hold of the weapon. The victim's son, who suffers from schizophrenia, was initially charged with the murder of his mother, before being cleared.

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Cyril Berger was arrested shortly after the incident at his home, sweating and with a wrist injury. At the same time, firefighters were called to a fire in the basement of the couple's building. Two weeks later, investigators found Cyril Berger's wedding ring among the residues of his clothes. Investigators also found the old woman's blood in the kitchen sink in his home. And his DNA was found under the victim's fingernail, a factor that weighed in the conviction, according to the reasons for the decision read out at the hearing.

A figure dressed in black, holding a cardboard box hiding his face, had been spotted by a couple of neighbours and then on a CCTV camera, shortly before the incident. "I am not a violent person (...), I repeat that I did not kill Odile or try to kill" (my) brother-in-law, the defendant said, in a choked voice, on the first day of his trial. While the motive remains unclear, the accused assures that he lived comfortably with his wife, the public prosecutor considered that the facts were established and said that Cyril Berger's "completely far-fetched" explanations had "absolutely not convinced him".