French geneticist to appeal murder conviction
Lawyers for French geneticist Laurent Ségelat are appealing a ruling last week by a Vaud cantonal court that sentenced him to 16 years in jail for murdering his step-mother.
The appeal ruling by the court last Friday marked a spectacular reversal of a judgment from a lower court that found Ségelat, 48, not guilty of killing 67-year-old Catherine Ségelat at her Vaux-sur-Morges home on January 9th 2010.
The scientist’s lawyers said on Tuesday said they would be appealing both the conviction and the sentence of the three judges.
“There are two separate procedures,” Stefan Disch, one of Ségelat’s three lawyers, is quoted as saying by the ATS news service.
The defence will be appealing the Lausanne court’s order to arrest and incarcerate Ségelat immediately as a precaution against his flight.
This allows for Ségelat to be detained before a final judgement is rendered in the case.
“We have 30 days from the verdict to make this request,” Disch said.
“We will make this appeal when we are ready,” he said, noting that there is no urgency because his client is not yet behind bars.
Ségelat, a researcher in genetics at the prestigious French CNRS centre, lives on the French side of Lake Geneva.
He was not in attendance at the court when it delivered its surprise decision last week.
An appeal will also be launched against the judgement itself, the written argument for which will not be ready for several weeks.
Laywers have 30 days from the release of the written judgment to file the appeal.
There is "no doubt, the defendant is the perpetrator of the serious wounds inflicted on the victim," the three Lausanne judges said.
Ségelat, a researcher in genetics at the prestigious French CNRS centre, who lives on the French side of Lake Geneva, was found at the scene of the crime with scratch marks on his face and arms.
The ruling reversed a lower-court verdict in June, which acquitted Ségelat precisely on the grounds that there was "sufficient doubt" about his guilt.
The prosecution had failed to come up with a motive for the crime or produce a murder weapon.
In an interview with Le Matin Dimanche, Ségelat said he and his family were in shock over the conviction.
“We cannot understand how such a decision could have been made,” he said.
Ségelat said he found it troubling that the ruling was made without hearing new evidence.
He said that he did appear in court on Friday on the advice of his lawyers.
If he had appeared he would have been liable to arrest immediately after the judgment was made public.