Perpignan: last tribute to Me Etienne Nicolau, the lawyer for the families of victims

In fifty years, the criminal lawyer, who died on the night of Sunday May 15 to Monday May 16, had become the essential lawyer for all legal cases in the Pyrénées-Orientales department. For years, involved in more than 400 trials, more than half of which before the assizes, Me Étienne Nicolau had chosen his side, that of defending the interests of civil parties and assisting victims, most of the time in cases that touched on inhumanity.

Me Étienne Nicolau had engraved his legend on March 25, 1994 in the trial of Christian Van Geloven, the monster assassin of Elne. That day, before the assizes of Perpignan, he had delivered a civil party plea on behalf of the families of Muriel and Ingrid, 10 years old kidnapped in Elne in November 1991, kidnapped, raped, martyred and then strangled at the end of the Calvary. In 110 minutes of a limpid and inspired speech, he had upset and marked forever those who that morning were within reach of his voice. Including, the investigating judge and the experienced director of investigation of the research section of Montpellier who had obtained the confessions of the monster. Including also Van Geloven’s own lawyers, himself icy and laconic in his cubicle.

Me Étienne Nicolau was extraordinarily pugnacious. For more than twenty years, he was a tireless actor in the file of the murdered women of the Perpignan station, until the arrest of Jacques Rançon. Investigators and magistrates paraded. He stayed with the legal file close to him so that the legal action never died out. He never let go and remained in constant contact with the families of whom he had become a close friend, an adviser and a precious support for survival after the tragedy.

To clearly show the determinants of inhumanity which lead to the most extreme murderous violence, he had kept a daily judicial chronicle on France Bleu Roussillon. He had extended this work of memory and pedagogy by going up on the boards himself to tell these trials as he has also done in a series of books. In a limpid and inspired writing, a perfect copy of his pleadings.

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