Sambre, radioscopy of a news item
by Alice Geraud
JC Lattès, 400 p., €21.50
On June 10, 2022, Dino Scala is found guilty of having sexually assaulted and raped 54 women between 1988 and 2018. How did he manage for such long years and over a perimeter of 27 kilometers, along the same road in the Sambre, never to be worried or suspected? It is to this question that Alice Géraud answers, in Sambre, radioscopy of a news item. The former journalist at Liberation and co-founder of the site “Les Jours” investigated for four years. With clinical precision, without any artifice, she exposes the facts and reveals “the infernal mechanics of the failure of a system, of a society”.
The book reveals the shortcomings of judicial and police institutions. The lack of resources, first of all: the police do not bring together testimonies that are nevertheless consistent, complaints are forgotten, when a composite portrait is produced it will only be displayed at the reception of the police stations and never disseminated in the press… And lack of understanding, skills. The victims are sometimes mocked, often poorly listened to. They are not informed of the consequences of the investigation, and do not even know, for the most part, that several of them have been attacked by the same man.
Well integrated in the region
Result: Dino Scala continues to crack down, testimonies follow one another and history, unbearable, repeats itself. In the early morning, these women of all ages (at the trial, the youngest victim was 20 and the oldest 75) were walking to start their day of school or work when a man strangled them, dragged them aside, and sexually assaults them. For each, their life was shattered on the edge of this Sambre road. Meanwhile, that of Dino Scala continues. The few lines that slip between two chapters tell us that he married, became a father, then a grandfather. Very well integrated into the region, the Jeumont Electric factory worker was even appointed director of his football club. When he is arrested in 2018, some victims will realize that their attacker was a neighbor, a friend of a cousin, a colleague of their father…
Most of them know each other by sight but will speak to each other for the first time on the benches of the civil parties of the Douai Assize Court, during the three weeks of trial at the end of which Dino Scala was convicted. Twenty years in prison. One of them did the math: it comes down to four months per victim.
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