A Parisian court quashed the conviction of a young man imprisoned for seven years for a murder he did not commit Thursday. Marc Machin also made French legal history, as it is only the eighth time a conviction has been overturned since World War II.
Paris’s criminal court made front page news on Thursday after acknowledging a serious miscarriage of justice in the wrongful imprisonment of a young man for murder.
Marc Machin was only 19 years old when he was first accused of the brutal December 1, 2001 murder of Marie-Agnès Bedot. The 45 year-old Bedot had been found stabbed to death near the wealthy and chic town of Neuilly, just outside of Paris. After a nearly two-week long investigation, police charged the young Machin with the crime, despite the fact that the evidence against him was largely circumstantial.
Machin initially denied the charges, but under duress owned up to the crime. By the time Machin attempted to retract his confession, it was too late. The young man was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Machin always maintained his innocence, and attempted to overturn the ruling, but lost his appeal in 2005.
Interest in Machin’s case was revived in March, 2008, however, after a David Sagno, a homeless man, turned himself into the police for a separate murder, which also took place near Neuilly. During his confession, Sagno also owned up to killing Bedot, describing the crime in exact detail. Police reopened their investigation into the case, only to find traces of Sagno’s DNA on the victim’s clothing.
After seven years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, there was a call for Machin’s case to be re-examined. Now, more than 11 years after Machin first stood accused of the crime, his name has finally been cleared.
Speaking after his acquittal, Machin said, “When you’ve been the victim of a miscarriage of justice, wrongfully and unjustly imprisoned, you cannot celebrate and jump up and down… I need to rebuild my life.”
Machin’s acquittal is only the eighth time since World War II that a criminal conviction has been reversed.