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Sophie Lionnet

Frenchwoman on trial over au-pair death demands freedom

The Frenchwoman accused with her partner of murdering their au-pair in London demanded on Thursday to be released, claiming in her trial that she had been drugged by the victim.

Sabrina Kouider, 35, and her 40-year-old partner Ouissem Medouni, also French, are standing trial at England’s Old Bailey central criminal court for the murder of 21-year-old French au-pair Sophie Lionnet.

Lionnet’s charred remains were discovered by the fire brigade on September 20, in the back garden of the southwest London home where she cared for two children.

When the fire brigade arrived at the house they found Medouni next to a barbeque with chicken on it, and Lionnet’s remains were found in a burning bonfire nearby, which he claimed contained a sheep.

“I didn’t know what was going on. He (Medouni) said he was going to do a barbeque,” she told the court.

“Release me as soon as possible because I have nothing to do with it,” she pleaded.

Prosecutors earlier told the court that the couple had subjected Lionnet to “a campaign of intimidation, torture and violence” which culminated in her death.

The couple accused the young nanny, who had worked for them since December 2015, of being a spy for Kouider’s former partner Mark Walton — an original member of the Irish pop band Boyzone.

According to the prosecution, Kouider had developed an “obsession” with Walton and had accused the singer of paedophilia, sexual assault and harassment, before admitting it was defamation.

Kouider told investigators that the au-pair had “drugged” her family as part of the spying campaign.

On Tuesday’s second day of the trial, the packed courtroom heard clips of more than eight hours of audio recordings of Lionnet being questioned by the couple.

Lionnet admitted “she had been recruited by Mark Walton and he paid her more than £18,000 ($25,000, 20,000 euros), she was working for him. She had drugged us,” Kouider said on Thursday.

The courtroom had previously been shown video footage of the emaciated nanny confessing to the supposed plot, prompted by Medouni, which the prosecution said was given under duress.

Kouider also told jurors that the nanny was lazy, saying: “She waits for us to serve her, it was like we were working for her.

“Most of the time she was on the phone, sitting on the sofa.”

Both defendants have denied murder but pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice by burning Lionnet’s body, which was found after a neighbour alerted emergency services to thick black smoke.

Source: AFP


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