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Seychelles: French street artist tried for murder acquitted

French citizen Thomas Debatisse (R) accompanied by his lawyer Bazil Hoareau (L), is seen at the Palais de Justice,   -  
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After almost a year in a Seychelles prison, French street artist Thomas Debatisse will now return home as a free man.

The 35-year-old from Nice-France had been accused of murdering his Franco Congolese partner Emmanuelle Badibanga on April 27 last year.

After two months of trial, the jury gave their verdict on Friday, April 15 declaring that Debatisse was innocent of the murder.

The street artist was acquitted by a large majority, of six jurors out of eight.

The verdict came as a relief to his defence lawyer Basil Hoareau who sees the success as the result of “teamwork between himself, Mr Kieran Shah chambers and obviously his French lawyer”

"I had no doubt that it was an innocent man who was being tried. I think the Seychelles police should review their protocol," the lawyer added.

Debatisse and his lawyers explained that the young woman was very disturbed on the evening of the incident and appeared to have committed suicide by hanging herself with a scarf from the towel rail in her bathroom in a hotel.

Richard Sedillot, another defence lawyer, said he was "very happy that the jury, by a very large majority, realised what we thought all along, that Thomas was innocent".

The mother of the thirty-year-old burst into tears in her son's arms, confiding that the verdict was "a deliverance". "It was very hard," Anne Debatisse said.

Emmanuelle Badibanga's sister left the courtroom without saying a word.

The trial was the longest ever held in the Seychelles, with as many as 25 people taking the stand to testify.

The trial was the longest ever held in Seychelles, with not less than 25 people called to testify.