On Tuesday afternoon, the Luxembourg Court of Appeal conducted the second trial for a woman accused of murdering her 44-year-old brother in Schifflange in 2021.
The incident unfolded on 3 May 2021, as the brother and sister, 36 at the time, were residing with their mother. A heated argument erupted within the family home, escalating quickly. Fuelled by alcohol and cannabis, the victim verbally and physically attacked his sister while both were in the kitchen. In response, the sister forcefully pushed him away, causing him to stumble and fall to the floor. The sister then pounced on him, grabbed a kitchen knife from the worktop and stabbed the victim five times in the back, resulting in his death by the time the police arrived.
The deceased brother had returned to live with his mother after suffering from lung disease. Six weeks before the incident, the sister also returned to the family home after a temporary separation from her partner. The relationship within the family members in the household was anything but good and marked by a climate of terror, as reported during the first trial. In addition to the verbal attacks, there had been physical assaults.
The verdict at first instance
In the initial trial, the accused sister received an 18-year prison sentence, with 13 years suspended. This fell short of the 25 years imprisonment sought by the prosecution. The verdict hinged on whether the accused's actions were premeditated or emotionally charged.
Mitigating circumstances were considered during the first trial, taking into account the victim's alleged terrorisation of the family. Constant verbal attacks and physical assaults were cited, prompting the mother, aged 72 at the time, to express being "scared to death of this guy" during the court proceedings.
In the appeal hearing on Tuesday, the sister stood visibly distressed before the judges, struggling to find words to convey the events. "I know why I'm here and what happened," she managed to express, emphasising that it is "something I won't forget for the rest of my life." Yet, she pleaded against returning to prison, highlighting that she has "a family, a child, a husband, and a job."
Recounting the incident once again, she detailed being insulted by her brother who then advanced toward her. In a bid to defend herself, she explained how she grabbed whatever was within reach.
During the appeal, her lawyer, Philippe Schloesser, invoked the "excuse of provocation," asserting that her reaction stemmed from being attacked first. Schloesser acknowledged the defendant's overreaction but argued that panic drove her actions. Her defence presented evidence from the police investigation, asserting that the young woman had never displayed aggression and consistently sought to avoid conflict. Consequently, Schloesser urged the judges to consider a suspended sentence.
However, the representative of the public prosecutor's office contested this narrative, attributing a sense of composure and deliberate action to the accused sister. The prosecutor argued, "there is no indication that she was not in control of her actions," highlighting phrases said by the accused sister such as "we cannot go on like this." The prosecutor contended that there was no new evidence in the file, urging the Court of Appeal to uphold the trial court's verdict of 18 years of imprisonment, 13 of which suspended.
The verdict from the Court of Appeal is anticipated on 16 January.
Full report by RTL Télé (in Luxembourgish)