and Erika Aubin MISE & Agrave; DAY
Abandoned tied up and pants down by his captors in the middle of March, the president of Cora restaurants seemed panicked and intoxicated when he was found in a ditch, according to a citizen and a policewoman who told him came to the rescue. & nbsp; & nbsp;
- Roxane Trudel, Le Journal de Montréal & nbsp; & nbsp;
“He really wanted to have [his links] removed, but since I didn't know if he was a malicious individual or not, I said that we would wait for the police. We [went] from “his heroes” to less than nothing because we did not want to remove his duct tape , ”François Viau told the Laval courthouse on Wednesday.
It was this motorist who saw Nicholas Tsouflidis in a ditch on Montée Champagne, in Laval, in the winter of 2017.
The latter testified Wednesday in the context of the trial of Paul Zaidan, accused of having played a role in the kidnapping of the son of Cora Tsouflidou, well-known founder of the chain of lunch restaurants which carries his name.
While the prosecution has not yet revealed the exact nature of the 52-year-old's role in the kidnapping, jurors were able to learn this week that he returned the tablet used to claim an 11 M ransom to the store. $ the same day Mr. Tsouflidis was found with his wrists tied and his pants down to the ankles.
Send a message
“I told myself that this was their way [to the kidnappers] of making him understand a message,” said Viau, who tried to dress him again. I blamed myself for not bringing him a coat that was in my car. It was cold. “
He seemed drunk, according to the witness, as he was staggering and could not sit still.
The 49-year-old victim also had” duct tape “In the face” as if he had been blindfolded and that he had succeeded in raising him “, indicated the policewoman Karianne Tétreault, first responder on the scene. She clarified that the victim was crying and panicked. & Nbsp;
“Monsieur was having mood swings. He was really happy, and suddenly he was cursing us by saying that we didn't do our job well, that it was too long, ”she said. & Nbsp;
< strong> Forced to drink by his captors
As she approached, she noticed that he reeked of alcohol. He then allegedly told her that he was “forced” to consume alcohol by his captors, she added. & Nbsp;
The latter allegedly threw him into the ditch only a few minutes earlier, before fleeing in a dark-colored Volvo.
Photos of the telephone booth from where a kidnapper allegedly called Ms. Tsouflidou to demanding a ransom and the place where the victim was found on the morning of March 9, 2017 were also exhibited to the jury on Wednesday. & nbsp;
Buy, we see Paul Zaidan returning the tablet to the store.
After nearly three weeks of trial, the prosecution still has nearly half of its forty witnesses to call to support its evidence against Paul Zaidan, this former franchisee of Cora restaurants accused of playing a role in the spectacular kidnapping of the president. chain, which occurred four years ago. & nbsp;
- Erika Aubin, Le Journal de Montréal & nbsp; & nbsp;
This lawsuit, which captivates Quebec, features the family of Cora Tsouflidou, famous founder of the restaurant chain bearing her name and who has since revolutionized breakfasts with her fruity menus. & Nbsp;
The Crown will undoubtedly need another two weeks to finish its evidence, so far spread sparingly before the jury of two women and ten men, but which has already given rise to some twists and turns. So far, jurors still know very little about the 52-year-old defendant and what might have prompted him to participate in the nebulous kidnapping of Nicholas Tsouflidis on March 8, 2017, before he was released the next day. Here is an overview of the topics discussed at his trial since the opening. & Nbsp;
The tablet & nbsp;
Thanks to the email@example.com email address, mentioned on the $ 11 million ransom demand, the investigators managed to target the internet networks of two establishments, a Subway in Sainte-Thérèse and a Tim Hortons in Montreal. With the log of connections to their wifi, they went back to a Samsung tablet, using its MAC address, a series of numbers unique to each device.
By contacting the Samsung company, the he Sûreté du Québec investigator managed to obtain the point of sale of the tablet: a Best Buy store in Laval. He then learned that the tablet had been returned to the store the evening after the kidnapping, the investigator said.
And it is the name Boulos Zaidan, one of the legal names of the accused, which appeared on the return statement from the store. Images of surveillance cameras showing him turning the tablet over were also revealed to the jury. & Nbsp;
The kidnapping & nbsp;
C ' It was in this ditch, near Montée Champagne, in Laval, that Nicholas Tsouflidis was found the day after his kidnapping.
The trial opened on November 16 with the testimony of Nicholas Tsouflidis, who recounted in detail how he was abducted from his home in Mirabel on March 8, 2017. At around 9:30 p.m. that evening, a man knocked at his door, claiming to have lost his way and misplaced his keys. & nbsp;
When Mr. Tsouflidis went outside to help him, the individual instead brandished a gun and ordered him to stand lie on the ground. Two other masked people disembarked and entered his house, where they stole a safe containing $ 3,000 in change, according to his testimony.
Mr Tsouflidis then explained how he was tied up with tie-wraps around his wrists and then loaded “like a piece of wood” into the trunk of a blue Volvo. However, the kidnappers did not tighten the ties “as hard as they could have” because he was able to retrieve his cell phone, which was in his jacket pocket, and make a call to 911. Le jury listened to an excerpt from this call. & nbsp;
He was then reportedly transported to a house, where he was handcuffed, tied at his ankles with chains and monitored by cameras.
While in confinement, his captors were not shown. violent and they even offered him food, then served cigarettes and drinks of alcohol, Nicholas Tsouflidis said in cross-examination. & nbsp;
A witness came to tell the jury on Wednesday that he had helped the victim, clearly intoxicated and in distress, around 6:10 a.m. on March 7, near Montée Champagne, in Laval. & nbsp;
Chicane de famille & nbsp;
Cora Tsouflidou and her son Nicholas Tsouflidis walking towards the Laval courthouse.
The jury learned of a conflict with the eldest of the family, Theoharis Tsouflidis. Returning from Greece, where he lived, he asked his little brother Nicholas for a job at the company's head office. However, he was refused because he had no experience, said the president. At that time, Cora Tsouflidou had also cut off food for her eldest child because of his consumption problems, which would have annoyed him to the point of no longer talking to his mother, she told the jury.
But in cross-examination, Ms. Tsouflidou was questioned strongly about an amount of $ 50,000 that she allegedly paid Theoharis about a week before the kidnapping. Time and time again, the septuagenarian replied that she did not remember. To jog her memory, the defense lawyer exhibited two reports, dating from March and May 2017, written by investigators to whom she mentioned making such a transfer. To one of the police officers, she allegedly specified that she had given this amount in advance of the $ 200,000 that she paid annually to her children. & Nbsp;
Stunt? & nbsp; & nbsp;
Paul Zaidan (center) with his lawyers, Me Hovsep Dadaghalian and Me Christopher Lerhe-Mediati.
According to the defense theory, the kidnapping of Nicholas Tsouflidis is a stunt he himself orchestrated to cast suspicion on his elder brother, Theoharis. His ultimate goal was to crush his brother out of the family business, again according to this theory.
Nicholas Tsouflidis reported that his captors told him he was paid $ 50,000, the same amount that allegedly been paid to his brother. The chairman of the channel was also said to have been kidnapped and told that he had “stuffed someone” with $ 200,000. “You did everything to make your brother Theoharis the suspect, didn't you? Defense lawyer Mr. Hovsep Dadaghalian asked.
Theoharis Tsouflidis sold the shares he held in the company in June 2017, less than three months after the kidnapping.
The defense suggested to Cora Tsouflidou that her son had been forced to sell his shares at a lower price, which she refuted. & nbsp;
“He insisted that [them] be bought back. Maybe it was a way of [getting] money in your hands, ”she replied. & Nbsp;
The ransom & nbsp;
The telephone booth where the kidnappers allegedly contacted the victim's mother.
While her son was in kidnapping, Cora Tsouflidou received two calls, around 1 a.m., from a threatening voice captor ordering her to go to her son's house and follow the signs left on the table without alerting the police men. However, she was with two patrollers at the time, who heard everything. The phone number on its display allowed investigators to trace it back to a phone booth in Montreal.
Then, a ransom letter, which detailed how to transfer $ 11 million over a three-month period. days, was found on Nicholas Tsouflidis' kitchen island by a crime scene technician, who combed the house for clues. & nbsp;
“After every transfer, you send the proof to firstname.lastname@example.org ”, we can read. This email address has been traced back to the accused, according to the evidence the Crown intends to present.