Jacques Santoni requests his release

The French prison system was not designed for quadriplegics, even if it is a dreaded mafia godfather. For fifteen years, justice has not known how to get around this obstacle concerning Jacques Santoni, both disabled and the alleged leader of the Petit Bar criminal group.

Tuesday, July 6, the investigative chamber of the Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeal (Bouches-du-Rhône) must examine a request for release. Incarcerated since January 14, for acts of “aggravated money laundering”, “criminal association” and “extortion”, Jacques Santoni was transferred, on February 9, to a medical unit in Fresnes prison (Val-de-Marne ). This is the last episode of an already long-standing balance of power.

On December 24, 2003, in Ajaccio (Corse-du-Sud), his motorcycle hit a retractable bollard. Jacques Santoni has broken necks, part of his body no longer responds. Only his right hand is still moving. He can only move around in a wheelchair and requires permanent assistance. But, according to the police, this infirmity does not detract from its dangerousness.

Read the episode: Jacques Santoni, the brain of Corse-du-Sud

Prosecuted since, in various cases, his condition has never allowed him to be left in detention for a long time. On July 24, 2013, the Bastia penalty enforcement chamber even ordered the suspension of the execution of a sentence, in an extortion case. Decision confirmed in 2017, in Paris, on the grounds that there was no prison structure adapted to the care of a person suffering from such a severe handicap. A situation that has not ceased to enrage the investigating judges of the specialized jurisdiction in the fight against organized crime, in Marseille, responsible for tracking down island mafia.

Between 2005 and 2015 alone, seven legal expertises on his health were carried out. Justice suspects delaying tactics intended to avoid incarceration. In the case that led Jacques Santoni in detention in mid-January, investigators tracked down any cover-ups on the reality of his state of health. His lawyers, Mit is Pauline Baudu-Armand and Pascal Garbarini, for their part, recall that all the expertises conducted between 2005 and 2015 concluded that “His condition was incompatible with detention”.

An adapted structure

Since January 14, his advice therefore scrapes again with justice so that their client finds the open air. New experts have been appointed by the magistrates. On the basis of their findings, the liberty and detention judge on 23 June issued an order denying a first request for release, noting “That it does not emerge from the findings of the experts that the state of health of Jacques Santoni would be incompatible with detention”. But he specifies that the same experts consider, on the other hand, that it would only be possible if the reception structure of Fresnes adapted its facilities.

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