“Don’t go there! I saw a weapon in his hands!” At the Hérault assizes, fear and death among travelers in Béziers

“Don’t go there! I saw a weapon in his hands!” At the Hérault assizes, fear and death among travelers in Béziers

Alain Drouhot, left, his daughter Rachel and his son Howard in the box. FREE MIDI – Aline Champsaur

Luis Amador, 44, was killed by three gunshots on August 2, 2020 by another resident of the Cantagal camp, in Béziers, where fairground workers and gypsies have been settled for decades. At the heart of the trial, guns and cartridges, with the accused claiming that  the victim was also about to shoot him.

"It's a very special place, a Travelers camp which is a small lawless area, with a fear of speaking, and which is regularly the subject of' 39;interventions for cases of violence" explains this Friday March 8 at the Hérault Assize Court the Béziers police officer who led the investigation into the murder of Luis Amador, 44, killed by three gunshots on August 2, 2020.

Late rent for the mobile home

That day, an altercation broke out between this father with a long criminal record (24 convictions, including two for aggravated pimping) and Howard Drouhot, 32, a showman who rented him a mobile- home in this Cantagal camp, and who is furious at not being fully paid. "IWe had 150 &euro left; to give him, and he wanted us to leave" says Sabine, Luis's widow, from the Perpignan prison, where she is incarcerated, for thefts committed since then. "They both hit each other, I tried to separate them." She obeys her husband who asks her to go get his rifle, to shoot in the air, while Howard runs fifty meters further, equipping himself with a rifle. rifle and ammunition at his father's house.

Three gunshots, one in the head

"I’I told my husband, n& Don’t worry, I saw a weapon in his hands! "But Luis Amador goes anyway: he takes two first shots in the chest, before falling to his knees:  Howard Drouhot shoots him a third, fatal shot, in the head. "I was so scared, I thought he was going to kill me too” pursues Sandrine, who rushes into her car.

But in the other family, they also swear they acted out of fear. "Luis screamed at my father,  your son, I'm going to kill him in front of your eyes! " recounts Rachel, Howard's sister, accused of having altered the crime scene, by picking up the rifle allegedly held by Luis Amador before getting killed. "J’was so afraid that there would be carnage that I said , if his wife or his brother takes it, we are all dead. I went to get it and put it on my parents' table."

The Amador family in force in the room

With Alain, her father, accused of complicity in murder for having given cartridges to his son, she appears free, and remains close to the police, while half of the room is occupied by members of the Amador family.

"We live in fear. If they find us, they will kill us, they will not hesitate to kill us" explains Alain, who left the region. 

"Iyou should know that I have a contract on the head" explains Howard, who has been detained since the events. When I arrived at Rodez prison, I was tapped and told, it's from Luis Amador, and it's going to be like that throughout your detention so they put me in the isolation unit. After the fact, the Amador family took everything from us, the cars, the dogs, the family photos, everything we owned."

The policeman confirms : "Everything that belonged to the Drouhot family was razed by a member of the Amador family, who took a construction machine and dug and buried all traces of the housing.

On the day of the crime, Howard said he fired reflexively, in the face of threats from Luis Amador. "I see an alarm red that flashes and I say to myself, if I turn off this light, I remove the danger. His back was turned, I called him, he turned around and I shot."
Accused of murder, Howard Drouhot, whose older brother has already been convicted of homicide, faces 30 years of criminal imprisonment. Verdict Monday evening.

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