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The appeal trial of Wojciech Janowski, sentenced to life in prison for ordering the assassination of his mother-in-law Hélène Pastor in 2014, has again been postponed due to the Covid health crisis.
Wojciech Janowski and his co-accused appeared in the Aix-en-Provence court on Monday 2nd November for the month-long trial, which was suspended initially in March because of the lockdown. This week, their defence lawyers jointly requested a postponement of this appeal trial for the same reasons.
“The worst case scenario would be that this trial begins and before its end, we are forced – as in March – to end it,” said Jean-Robert Phung, lawyer for one of the five men.
However, the Advocate General had called for the continuation of the trial, arguing that “life, judicial life” should go on.
Wojciech Janowski, ex-honorary consul of Poland in Monaco, was sentenced to life in prison in 2018 after being found guilty of ordering the ambush that claimed the lives of his mother-in-law and her driver. On 6th May 2014, Hélène Pastor, aged 77, and Mohamed Darwich, aged 63, were fatally shot in front of a hospital in Nice where the billionaire had just visited her son Gildo, the victim of a double stroke.
Following the tragedy, Wojciech Janowski had confessed in police custody to organising the ambush, but later retracted his confession saying he was coerced by police.
Later during trial, his lawyer at the time Éric Dupond-Moretti – now France’s Minister of Justice – had conceded that his client was indeed the instigator of the assassination of Hélène Pastor, but not that of the driver. This statement was contested nine months later by Wojciech Janowski, who accused his lawyer of having pleaded guilty against his will.
The murders significantly shook the Principality of Monaco, of which Hélène Pastor was one of its wealthiest citizens, heir to a real estate empire estimated at €12 billion.
Photo: Court of Appeal in Aix-en-Provence
During his annual address to the press, National Council President Stéphane Valeri was optimistic for 2022, saying "there are reasons to hope that we can get back to a quasi-normal life.”
Nice Côte d’Azur airport ended 2021 with over 6.5 million passengers passing through, higher than expected and fuelled mainly by a strong summer season and the return of long-haul flights.
It is expected to be another mild, sunny weekend at the region’s ski resorts with plenty of standing snow, while Valberg will be hosting a Monte-Carlo Rallye event on Friday.
The celebration of Sainte Devote, Monaco’s Patron Saint, will be held next week, and again this year the Principality is taking adapted measures to ensure the health and safety of all who wish to participate.