Death of Émile: can the hiker who discovered and moved the skull be prosecuted for “altering the crime scene” ?

Death of Émile: can the hiker who discovered and moved the skull be prosecuted for “altering the crime scene” ?

Des ossements du petit garçon, disparu depuis le 8 juillet dernier, ont été retrouvés samedi 30 mars dans le hameau du Haut-Vernet. ILLUSTRATION MAXPPP

Missing since July 8, 2023, little Emile was found dead last Saturday March 30. It was a hiker who discovered the bones of the little boy along a trail. Unable to contact the police, she took the skull she found and took it home before handing it over to the gendarmerie.

Almost nine months after the disappearance of Emile in Haut-Vernet, part of his bones, including his skull, were found on Saturday March 30.

She brought the skull home in a plastic bag

The macabre discovery was made by a resident of the hamlet, during a hike. As the telephone network did not pass through this steep, wilderness area, and was unable to notify the authorities, the hiker then placed the little boy's skull in a plastic bag, and took it home before putting it back. ;nbsp;at the Seyne gendarmerie.

An initiative which surprised and shocked some, especially because the intervention of this walker probably altered the "crime scene&quot ;, thus complicating for the gendarmes the new phase of the investigation aimed at shedding light on the circumstances of Emile's death.

"When discovering a body or a skeleton, the first principle of IRCGN consists of &quot ;freeze scene". Thus, the teams have total control of all its elements, and of what happens inside", explains in the columns of FigaroGeneral François Heulard, director of the Criminal Research Institute of the National Gendarmerie (IRCGN).

Unlikely pursuits

If she meant no harm, the hiker could expose herself to prosecution. As our colleagues remind us, modifying a crime scene can be criminally punishable by three years of imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros.

However, this sanction would only be applicable if the investigation makes it possible to establish the existence of serious and consistent evidence proving that the person concerned voluntarily desired to obstruct the truth. "This will is the moral element which constitutes an offense", specifies a former magistrate at Figaro. "If this hiker is walking in the wilderness and picks up this skull in good faith, there is little chance that she will be prosecuted."

Research is still underway to try to find the rest of the child's body. Investigators are supported by anthropologists to determine if "these bones were on site or if they could have been brought back by a person, an animal, or weather conditions".

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