Chahinez, a 31-year-old mother of three originally from Algeria, died last week in Mérignac, near Bordeaux, after being burned alive by her violent 45-year-old husband, sparking a wave of indignation and protests from feminist groups.
On Wednesday evening, around 300 people, friends, neighbors, or activists, gathered for an hour in silence near the scene of the tragedy, placing flowers, candles, and a message:
“We will not forget you,” was written on the sidewalk where the Algerian woman died.
On Tuesday evening, in the middle of the street of the quiet Bordeaux suburb, lined with small houses, Mounir B., who was already imprisoned for domestic violence in 2020, chased his estranged wife. He fired several gun shots in her legs until she collapsed, sprayed her with a flammable liquid while she was still alive, and then set her on fire, according to the prosecution and the police.
‘We thought that the noise was firecrackers. Afterward, he came to burn the house, he was shooting anywhere,” said a neighbor, Anne. The pavilion garage was burned down and the charred remains can still be seen.
The suspect also allegedly attacked a man who tried to intervene in the attack.
After fleeing the scene, Mounir B. was arrested about half an hour later nearby and taken into police custody.
During the investigation, he said that he wanted to “punish” his wife but denied intending to kill her. He told police he had obtained the gun used in the attack from “illegal immigrants in town”.
He “was carrying a 12-caliber rifle, a gas pistol, and a cartridge belt,” according to a statement from the prosecution, which opened an investigation for intentional homicide by spouse and destruction by fire.
“He was a monster,” said the victim
On June 25, 2020, in Bordeaux, the 40-year-old was sentenced to 18 months in prison including nine months suspended sentence and warrant of committal for “willful violence against a spouse” for an attack on his wife, according to the prosecution.
Released on Dec. 9, 2020, after serving only three months in prison for crushing his wife’s larynx, “he was since followed by the penitentiary service of integration and probation of the Gironde”.
This measure “included, in particular, a prohibition on the man coming in contact with the victim and the prohibition to appear at her home”, according to the prosecution.
Chahinez’s husband had not been assigned an electronic bracelet to track his movements.
“It was obvious that she was getting beaten, but she was very discreet. She said that it was complicated,” explains Chahima, 19, who began collecting donations via Instagram (TousavecChahinez) “so that she can be buried in Algeria with her family”.
“Chahinez said he was a monster. In June, she had her larynx crushed. He only served three months in prison, and he continued to move in the neighborhood,” adds Anne, who remembers having seen the victim with “two black eyes”.
On March 15, Chahinez lodged a complaint with the Mérignac police station against her spouse for an assault committed in the morning, according to the prosecution, but police were unable to locate him.
As a mother of two children, aged 12 and seven, from a previous marriage, she arrived from Algeria five years ago, according to Anne, and remarried to 45-year-old Mounir B., father of her last 5-year-old son. The three children were not at home at the time of the incident, said the prosecution.
On Twitter, the Minister Delegate in charge of Citizenship Marlène Schiappa said she was “horrified by this despicable crime”.
But associations have questioned the action of the state. “In addition to being a repeat offender, he had a gun! Again! But what is Gérald Darmanin doing?” tweeted Anne-Cécile Mailfert, president of the Women’s Foundation, which calls for the systematic withdrawal of firearms from violent spouses. Mailfert made no mention that the gun was obtained illegally from illegal immigrants in the country on the black market and the man held no license for the firearm.
— Anne-Cécile Mailfert (@AnneCMailfert) May 5, 2021
“State inaction,” wrote the Dare Feminism organization, estimating that “everyone knew he was dangerous and armed”.
The French Interior Ministry announced in February that it had asked the prefects to “systematically seize the weapons of violent spouses upon complaint”, a measure allowed since 2019, but still too little applied, according to associations.
In 2020, 90 femicides were officially recorded in France compared to 146 the previous year.