68-year-old Polish diplomat pleaded guilty to crime on last day in court

Wojciech Janowski, the man who formerly served as Poland’s honorary consul, has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of wealthy Monegasque heiress Hélène Pastor. Janowski had been in a relationship with Pastor’s daughter Sylvie for several decades, although the pair had never married, and the murder was an apparent attempt to access her mother’s fortune. Sylvie was diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and had she died before her mother, Janowski would have been left with nothing.

In a dramatic turn of events, Janowski’s legal team used the final day of proceedings to confess his guilt. The Polish diplomat had actually confessed to the murder when he was initially apprehended by police in 2014, though he later changed his story to say that his French was not good enough to understand the officers’ questions and that his confession had been extorted under duress. Earlier in the trial, the courtroom saw a video of the confession, which showed all parties remaining calm and civil.

“These words which you wanted to hear from him come from my mouth,” said Eric Dupond-Moretti, Janowski’s lawyer, on Tuesday. “He tried to say these words, he wanted to say them but he couldn’t.” As Dupond-Moretti revealed his guilt, Janowski broke down in tears in the dock. Despite confessing to organising the murder, Janowski fiercely contested the testimony of the man he paid €140,000 to source the killers, his personal trainer Pascal Dauriac.

Dauriac maintains that Janowski instructed him to assassinate both Pastor and her driver Mohamed Darwich and steal her purse to make the attack look like a robbery. Janowski contends that Darwich’s murder was not part of his plan and that the crime was one of passion, designed to relieve Sylvie of the torment of an oppressive mother. Regardless of the last-minute theatrics, the judge sentenced Janowski and the two men hired to actually carry out the killing, gunman Samine Said Ahmed and lookout Al Hair Hamadi, to life imprisonment.

According to France’s legal system, there is the possibility that the trio will not actually spend the rest of their lives in jail, and Janowski’s lawyer indicated that he intends to appeal the decision. For his part, Dauriac was given a 30-year sentence and six more were also involved in the trial. Four of those received sentences of varying lengths up to 15 years, while two were acquitted. “This is an exemplary sentence. I always believed in Wojciech Janowski’s guilt,” said Gildo Pallana-Pastor, son of Hélène and sister to Sylvie. “The jury didn’t fall for his final manipulation, his last-last-minute confession, a final attempt to shirk his responsibilities.”