Fifteen years ago, Théa (2 years old) died under the blows of her mother’s new companion, in an apartment in Namur. Long years of proceedings resulted in a 15-year prison sentence in Belgium, a sentence confirmed by the Liège Court of Appeal. The murderer was on the run, until his arrest in Morocco two years ago. A new trial opens this Tuesday in his country of origin. The family of the little victim deplores the absence of a confession which could shed light on the depths of the tragedy.
That Monday, Théa Gramtine, a baby with blond hair and light eyes, should have blown out the candles on his second birthday. “A little ray of sunshine, a smiling little girl who has always been so easy”, as his mother, Jennifer Devos, explains again with emotion. A baby who first experienced separation from his parents, before being beaten in the absence of his mother, at least twice, in two and a half months, from her new companion, Mounir Kiouh, in the family apartment in Namur. Fatal blows to little Théa, who died on November 10, 2005 in a hospital environment.
Today, Claude (66 years old) and Mathilde (66 years old) Gramtine-Bouchat, the paternal grandparents of Théa, and her aunt Karine (35 years old) do not take off. This family of Sclayn, supported by the mother of the young victim, will have moved heaven and earth so that the executioner of their little ray of sunshine is condemned.
In the family home, smiles have given way to sobs and tears. The atmosphere remains heavy when we talk about the fight they led to lead to the arrest of the alleged murderer, whose trial opens this Tuesday before a criminal chamber of the court of Tetouan (Morocco). Mounir Kiouh must answer for the murder of a minor child. Fifteen years after the death of the girl and at the end of an interminable procedure.
However, just after the events, the Brussels resident had been placed under arrest warrant. Released after 18 months of preventive detention pending trial, he appeared free in June 2011 before the Namur criminal court. The court had sentenced him there to 15 years’ imprisonment for assault and battery causing death without intention to kill.
But Mounir Kiouh had appealed. Absent at the hearing, he received the same sentence in second instance, on December 22, 2011. Five days later, the convicted person flew to Morocco.
If he had not been arrested, he could have returned to Belgium this year due to prescription.
Claiming to be “Abandoned by Belgian justice in which we no longer trust”, the family of little Théa will find an opening in the Moroccan judicial code.
If Morocco does not extradite its nationals, Mounir Kiouh was clearly unaware that any Moroccan having committed a crime abroad and being on the territory of the kingdom can be prosecuted there, provided that the judgment is not final. In this case, not having appeared in second instance, the Belgian judgment is therefore not considered to be final …
Accompanied by the mother of the little victim, the ex-in-laws therefore went to Tetouan, Morocco, two years ago, to file a complaint, allowing Moroccan justice to arrest and imprison Mounir. Kiouh after having charged him with the murder of a minor child. “If we had not had him arrested, he could have returned to Belgium this year due to prescription.”
No planes due to the health crisis
At 40, Mounir Kiouh must therefore appear this Tuesday before the court in Tetouan, Morocco, where the Belgian judicial file was transmitted … by the family of the victim.
“We had to spend money to obtain a copy of the documents, before submitting ourselves this 20 kilogram file, comprising 3,000 pages, to the Moroccan judicial authorities.” But the family of the little victim will not be able to attend the hearing, due to the lack of availability of planes due to the health crisis. “We regret not being able to go, but we would like justice to be finally done, that the trial not be postponed for several months. We would also like him to admit what he did, even if we think he will never admit having killed our little Théa. He has no empathy. Even when he was shown autopsy photos, he would turn them around as if he were reading the newspaper… ”
In the family home of little Théa’s grandparents, the emotion is great. But only the photos and the meager memories recall the presence of this broken childhood …
Théa’s mother: “A huge anger on myself and on the Belgian state”
“I don’t think I’ll ever grieve. I live with this guilt all the time. I will never forget, but I would have a relief to think that he will pay for what he did, that he will have been punished for the acts he committed. “
At 39 years old, Jennifer Devos, now a mother of four and established in Braine-l’Alleud (Walloon Brabant), does not take off. “All I want is for him to stay in jail, to serve the heaviest sentence possible for destroying an entire family. It is often said that time eases pain, but it is not. I have so much sadness. But I don’t wish him to die, that won’t bring my baby back. ”
What somewhat consoles Jennifer Devos and her ex-in-laws is that he is now tried before a criminal court “for murder on a minor”.
“Here in Belgium, it took six years for him to be tried, and we let him fly back to Morocco. I have enormous anger on myself and on the Belgian State, which has never done anything to help us in our procedures. At the time, we wrote to Koen Geens, then Minister of Justice, to former Prime Minister Charles Michel. Without getting the slightest answer … “