The appeal trial of Jacques Rançon, nicknamed “the Perpignan station killer”, sentenced in 2021 to 30 years’ imprisonment for the rape and murder in 1986 of Isabelle Mesnage, opened on Monday in Laon, in the Aisne.
The 62-year-old former forklift driver, dressed Monday morning in a white shirt and pants, is again on trial until Friday for the rape and murder of this 20-year-old young woman.
The investigation relaunched more than 30 years later
Having gone hiking, she was found dead on July 3, 1986, at the edge of a wood, a dozen kilometers from Amiens. The investigation had stalled before ending in a dismissal in 1992. It had been relaunched in 2017 when a lawyer, Corinne Herrmann, specialist in unsolved cases, had made the link between Jacques Rançon, then implicated for murders in Perpignan after the identification of his DNA, and the death of Isabelle Mesnage.
The lawyer had asked for the reopening of the investigations, also pointing to the deaths of two women in Aisne that remained unsolved, and won her case. A new autopsy had confirmed strong similarities with Jacques Rançon’s modus operandi.
“We hope that his guilt will be retained, it was by a first assize court, so we have no doubt that it will be by this one,” said a lawyer for the civil parties, Me Didier Seban. But the issue is also “his criminal course, we will ask that the “cold cases” pole in Paris be able to seize his course to try to bring up other cases”, he added.
Jacques Rançon confessed then recanted
The defense wants it, “to obtain the acquittal”, affirmed Me Xavier Capelet before the trial. When Jacques Rançon is innocent, “he says so, when he is guilty, he also says so, so I have no reason not to believe him, I consider that in the file there are no elements which allow us to be very positive,” he added.
The accused confessed, at his seventh custody hearing and then before the investigating judge, to having raped and killed Isabelle Mesnage, explaining that he had mutilated the body so that no trace of him could be found.
But he then retracted in a letter, saying he had been pressured by investigators. During his trial in Amiens in 2021, he steadfastly denied having committed this crime.
Jacques Rançon was sentenced in 2018 to life imprisonment for the rapes and murders of two women in Perpignan in 1997 and 1998.
Source: Le Progrès : info et actu nationale et régionale – Rhône, Loire, Ain, Haute-Loire et Jura | Le Progrès by www.leprogres.fr.
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