Accused of causing the death of their 15-month-old daughter in 2017, two Salafist parents were sentenced Thursday by the Assize Court of Isere to 18 years of criminal imprisonment for the father and five years of imprisonment for the mother. On Wednesday, the general counsel had required 20 years in prison against the first and 12 years of criminal imprisonment against the second.
The Assize Court found Sami Bernoui, the 26-year-old father, guilty of willful violence resulting in death without intent to give her, voluntary and habitual violence, and deprivation of care. By special decision, the court also pronounced the total withdrawal of parental authority of the young man on his second child, a boy placed in foster care.
Regarding Noemie Villard, the 22-year-old mother, the Assize Court sentenced her to five years imprisonment for deprivation of care and willful violence. This is what his lawyer, Mr. Roksana Naserzadeh, had requested in order to enable him to benefit from accompaniment through a socio-judicial follow-up – pronounced for 10 years – only possible with a conviction for voluntary violence.
"Entirely of (the) fault" of Sami Bernoui
On the other hand, the young woman was not sentenced for violence that led to her death without any intention of giving her. The warrant of committal was also not issued against her: Noemie Villard did not return to custody at the end of the hearing. Before her trial, she had been in pretrial detention for 19 months, was free on an electronic tag and had started a professional reintegration.
In particular, she has the obligation not to enter into contact with Sami Bernoui. But the court did not pronounce the withdrawal of parental authority against the young woman, who could stay in touch with her son. Before the seven hours of deliberations, Noemie Villard had told the court and the jury that her "biggest pain" was that her daughter Hafsa would be "no longer there and she would not come back".
Sami Bernoui considered that this drama was "entirely of (his) fault". "I never knew how to love my daughter as I had to love her and I did not know how to give her the love she needed."
A first report in January 2016
"Both parents have contributed to the condition of this child until his death" on March 1, 2017, caused by peritonitis and shaken baby syndrome, said the general counsel during his indictment. Shocking at the "total immaturity, complete and complete irresponsibility" of the two accused, she had seen in them "a kind of flight forward". "The image you give (in the face of social services in particular, ed) is not in line with your life. Nothing is normal in your way of living, "she had said to the couple, who had cut off the world a priori because of his rigorous religious practice.
The prosecutor's representative had also acknowledged that justice could have done better: a report to the prosecutor in January 2016 should have been followed by the opening of a judicial inquiry. Despite eight costal fractures detected by the University Hospital of Grenoble when the girl had been hospitalized at the age of two months, a ranking without action had been decided.