It is almost noon (French time) this Monday in courtroom number 1 of the Chester tribunal. After the introduction of the assize jury, which took place on the left of judge Steven Everett, the prosecutor Timothy Cray has the floor. In a slow voice, with sometimes drawling accents, he turns to the jurors and begins the long reading of his opening wordhis introductory summary of the case against Benjamin Mendy (28 years old) and the co-accused in this case, Louis Saha Matturie (41 years old).
Before a break at lunchtime, almost two hours later, he unfolded half of his argument, in this very media file; around thirty journalists were also present this Monday morning, on the spartan wooden benches of the Crown Court. “This charge sheet is simple and it has little to do with footballlaunched the prosecutor in preliminary. Rather, it is a new chapter in a very old story: men who rape and sexually assault women because they believe they are powerful and because they think they can get away with it. »
Under the gaze of the two defendants, seated in the “dock” and to whom the indictment file was also distributed, the prosecutor Cray then continued his speech, entering the heart of the matter. And by evoking Louis Saha Matturie, first. The co-accused (unrelated to ex-attacker Louis Saha) is the subject of twelve counts of sexual offences, including eight rapes. This Monday, he was presented as a “fixer” by the prosecution, a ” assistant “ and one “am I” de Mendy, who would have been in charge of “finding young women and creating situations where they could be raped and sexually assaulted”said the prosecutor.
A “mansion” in which one could feel “vulnerable”
Accused of eight rapes, an attempted rape and a sexual assault, Benjamin Mendy was presented, like his alleged sidekick, as a “predator” by Prosecutor Cray. The facts of which the Manchester City defender – suspended for almost a year by his club – is suspected took place at his vast home in Prestbury, Cheshire, between October 25, 2018 and August 23, 2021, i.e. three days. before his arrest. The native of Longjumeau (Essonne), who spent 134 days in pre-trial detention, has been granted parole since January 7.
Mendy’s rural home is a “mansion”continued the prosecutor, in which one could feel “vulnerable, scared, isolated”. A “vulnerability accentuated by other important facts you will hear about”he told the jury. such as driving “complainants in rooms they believe are locked”, “the fact that some women were drunk and that the defendants wanted them to be” and the “age and wealth differences between defendants and plaintiffs”.
“Nowadays, no one can doubt that: ”No, that means no” »
The apparent serenity shown by Benjamin Mendy since the start of the trial on August 10 is no longer appropriate. Face closed, mouth stiff, the 2018 world champion listens to the prosecutor continue his address to the jury: “Here are two important questions you are going to have to consider. What happened in Mendy’s house on the days in question? What was it about this house that made these women vulnerable? » A video of the different rooms of the “mansion” of the side was also broadcast, on two screens, during the hearing. The player and his “assistant” Matturie, who pleaded not guilty to each of the charges against them, maintain that the complainants were consenting, recalled the prosecutor.
“Nowadays, no one can doubt that: ”No, that means no” »he also launched, as an echo of the societal upheavals caused by the #MeToo movement. This fundamental right to say ”Nope” to sex should benefit everyone. And you don’t lose that right because you went to a bar, dressed to go out clubbing or went to a footballer’s house. » It is obviously on this central theme – the consent, or not, of the alleged victims – that the jurors will have to decide and then reach a verdict at the end of this trial, which must last fifteen weeks.