Facing his judges: The “Rapist of the Sambre” invokes a “hunter” instinct
Calm and voluble at the helm, the accused admits having “committed sexual assaults and rapes”, as he had done during the investigation, on “the majority of the facts”, according to his lawyer. At 61, he was appearing for 17 rapes, 12 attempted rapes, and 27 assaults or attempted sexual assaults, committed against 56 victims between 1988 and 2018.
“Did you feel strong?” asks a lawyer: “yes, strong, I took over”, he replies. To the president of the court who recalls that according to the personality survey, he is “not particularly focused on sex”, he launches: “yes, it’s weird”.
“Apart from that (…) of what I was able to accomplish as misdeeds, I always had a normal life”, adds this former worker and local football coach, father of five children from two marriages.
Meeting in prison “psychiatrist, psychologist”, “allowed me to bring out all that I had, like anger and frustrations”, he develops, in front of a room where several dozen victims or relatives are crowding.
He evokes adolescence, marked by intra-family “violence”, but also “suspicions, (…) on acts that my father would have committed on my sisters”. “In the family, I was good for nothing”, at school, “it was average”, “it was very complicated” and also in private and professional life, he says.
But he does not express any regret, as pointed out, at the end of the hearing, by Me Sandrine Billard, who represents two victims. “I had to be there, to see him, to confront him (…) but he doesn’t let anything show”, also regrets Valérie, attacked in 1997.
Another victim, Mélanie, assaulted at 14 the same year, does not hope for “the truth”, but counts on the trial to “rebuild herself afterward”. “I believed for a long time that he was (…) watching me and then that he was going to finish his work because he told me he would kill me if I shouted”, recalls- she. In the room, three psychologists were present for the victims.
The sprawling investigation began at the end of 1996 with the complaint of rape, along a highway in Maubeuge, of a 28-year-old woman. Other assaults follow, almost always at dawn, in winter, usually on public roads.
With the same modus operandi: the man grabs his victims from behind, strangles them with his forearm or a link, and threatens them, often with a knife. Many will say they have “seen death”. The police multiplied the investigations for years, compared the DNA, and squared the area, without success. A first dismissal was pronounced in 2003.
The case will rebound in 2006 after attacks in Belgium. Other older complaints are then brought closer to the file, drawing a hunting ground that extends over a radius of fewer than 30 km around the Sambre, which crosses the Franco-Belgian border.
But the culprit remains untraceable, until the attack on a teenager in February 2018 in Erquelinnes (Belgium). This time, CCTV captured a Peugeot 206. Its driver, Dino Scala, was arrested a few weeks later in Pont-sur-Sambre, to the amazement of those around him.
Knife, cords, and gloves are found during searches. His DNA is present at several crime scenes. In police custody, he confessed to about forty assaults, but contested “about fifteen”, according to his lawyer. The court, which reserved its decision, asked for the prescription of certain facts “so old that no one knows exactly what happened”.
“For the victims, it is engraved in their memories, in their flesh, their soul”, reacted at the end of the hearing Me Caty Richard, who defends three women. Dino Scala wants to present himself as “relieved to have been arrested, a victim of his impulses”, but “we realize that we are not at all in this state of mind since he comes to support the prescription”, she blasted.
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