Monday 4 January marked the beginning of Jacqueline Veyrac’s kidnap trial in Nice. Four days later the multimillionaire hotel and restaurant owner from the Côte d’Azur appeared in court to testify.
“My life’s changed a lot. There isn’t much else I can tell you.” These were the words spoken by Jacqueline Veyrac as she began her testimony. “When I leave the house, I’m stressed. I look around at everything. I’ve never been so paranoid.” The owner of the five-star Grand Hotel in Cannes and the La Réserve restaurant in Nice was victim of a kidnapping on 24 October 2016. Tied up and gagged, the multimillionaire businesswoman spent 48 hours trapped in the back of a van. She refused to eat, drink or sleep.
I could hear passers-by. I even kicked with my feet to signal ‘SOS’Jacqueline Veyrac
Who is on trial?
The former manager of the La Réserve restaurant, Giuseppe Serena, is the main suspect. He is accused of organising the kidnap as a result of Ms Veyrac terminating his contract in 2009. The 67-year-old demanded a 5-million-euro ransom. The money was to be spent opening a new restaurant. Despite pleading not guilty, he is also accused of orchestrating a previous attempted kidnap on Ms Veryac in 2013.
Several others have also been accused. Philip Dutton, a former British soldier, pleaded guilty to both kidnaps. However, Enrico Fontanella, an Italian friend of Ms Veryac, denied any involvement. Private detective Luc Goursolas and three suspected gang members from Nice have also been charged.