A French appeals court has upheld a life sentence handed down to a Corsican shepherd for killing a senior government official, 11 years ago.
Yvan Colonna had hoped to overturn his conviction, first imposed in 2007. But after a marathon hearing, attended by the murdered state representative’s widow, Colonna’s life term has been toughened. He must now spend a minimum of 22 years in prison. Benoît Chabert the prosecution lawyer said: “The only hero in this trial, is Claude Erignac,” referring to the governor who was gunned-down. He accuses Colonna, who dramatically abandoned his defence, of cowardice. The shepherd and his legal team boycotted the latter stages of the hearing, claiming it was a travesty of justice. As his sister wept at the verdict, those claims were repeated. Antoine Sollacaro, Colonna’s lawyer said: “He has been convicted in scandalous circumstances which flout the rules of a fair trial as defined by the European Convention on Human Rights.” Claude Erignac was France’s “prefect” in Corsica, which has a history of separatist violence. A long time fugitive, Colonna maintains his innocence. He was denounced by members of a so-called commando team already serving jail terms but they later retracted their accusations.