On Friday, a man in France was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment by a court for the brutal act of stabbing and setting his 15-year-old girlfriend on fire. This incident, which occurred in 2019, caused renewed public outrage in France regarding the alarming number of women who lose their lives to their intimate partners.
During the court proceedings, the victim, a secondary school student referred to as Shaina, was identified. The court heard that the defendant, who was a 17-year-old high school student at the time, enticed Shaina to a shed in the town of Creil, located north of Paris, with the intention of killing her and subsequently burning her body.
A post-mortem examination conducted by forensic experts revealed that Shaina had suffered multiple knife wounds, but she was still alive when the fire was ignited.
According to the public prosecutor, Loic Abrial, this heinous crime was meticulously planned at every step. The prosecutor had initially requested a harsher sentence of 20 to 30 years, but the court took into account the defendant’s status as a minor.
In response, Shaina’s brother, Yasin, cried angrily.
“18 years! That’s justice in France,” he shouted at the special juvenile court in Oise, and had a tense exchange with the accused before collapsing and being taken to hospital.
Restrictions prevent the media from identifying the accused, who has staunchly maintained his innocence.
“Why, why?” he said in reaction to the verdict, following four-hour deliberations.
“You’re wrong, I’m innocent.”
Defense attorney Elise Arfi expressed that it was too early to provide any comments regarding the potential for an appeal.
The case caused significant impact in France, where official statistics indicate that a woman is murdered by her partner or former partner every three days.
Shaina’s murder was especially shocking due to her young age and the fact that she had been a victim of sexual assault two years prior. In that previous incident, four other young individuals received suspended sentences ranging from six months to two years in prison. Graphic images of the assault were shared online with the intention, according to lawyers, of portraying Shaina as someone “who could be exploited and discarded.”
Described as “funny and smiling” by her mother, Shaina was likely in the early stages of pregnancy at the time of her murder, as per investigators’ findings.
The day before her death, she went out after a family dinner, and a positive pregnancy test was discovered in her handbag by relatives. She identified the accused, with whom she had been in a relationship, as the father.
The prosecution argued that the accused was willing to do anything to protect his image and avoid his parents’ disapproval, even if it meant “destroying everything.”
According to Shaina’s family’s lawyer, Negar Haeri, the accused could potentially be released in eight years, taking into account pre-trial detention and sentence reductions.
“Violence against women is disregarded by the justice system,” lamented Haeri.