Sofia Bodnarchuk was charged with complicity in the murder of her husband’s parents and was found guilty. The high-profile case of Sofia Bodnarchuk was widely covered by the French media. According to a number of legal experts and public figures, Bodnarchuk’s guilt has not been proven, and the long-term proceedings have signs of judicial arbitrariness.
Sofia Bodnarchuk, a 27-year-old Kazakhstan native, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for complicity in a murder that she was not involved in.
Sofia was born in Kazakhstan to a Russian-speaking Orthodox family. In 2011, at the age of 18, she moved to France, where she married a French citizen Kevin Rouxel, with whom she had previously corresponded on the Internet. Two weeks after her arrival, the couple got married.
In 2016, her husband Kevin Rouxel was charged with the murder of his parents Pascal and Eva Rouxel. Kevin Rouxel was also charged with attempted murder of his elder brother Yann who has Asperger’s Syndrome. He was found by the police in a state of shock, while the dead bodies of his parents were laying in the dining room and in the kitchen.
Initially, Kevin said that he acted alone, but later he decided to frame his wife and accused her of complicity.
From the moment the police arrived at the scene, and until the end of the trial, Kevin gave several different versions of what happened. Among them:
- Kevin’s father wanted to kill his mother but Kevin did not let him do it
2. His father who was an insurance agent offered Kevin to fake a robbery to get insurance money. But after Kevin refused to participate in the crime, his father pulled out a weapon and accidentally killed his wife.
3. His brother Yann killed his parents in order to inherit
4. He had planned this murder with his wife Sofia
Yann’s testimony exposes Kevin. Yann claims that at the time of the murder he was with Sofia in the kitchen, and as soon as he heard a noise in the living room, he immediately went there. He saw Kevin with a gun in his hands and his father lying on the floor. After that, Kevin allegedly fatally shot their mother.
The jury ignored the lack of evidence concluded that Sofia Bodnarchuk, Kevin’s wife, could not have been unaware of the purchase of a firearm and, therefore, was directly related to the incident. The jury relied only on her husband’s testimony and ignored Sophia’s version.
Despite the complete lack of evidence, Bodnarchuk was sentenced to 20 years in prison. One of the best lawyers in France defended her in court, but the prosecutors ignored the gross flaws of the investigation and the complete lack of evidence. Lawyers say Kevin misled her by lying that the weapon was a gift for his father. In addition, the jury ignored the fact that if Sofia had initially known the entire murder plan, she would not have taken her little child with her to the crime scene.
Despite the fact that the case of Bodnarchuk has been dragging on since 2016, all this time she has been behind bars in terrible conditions, because of which she has already begun to have health problems. According to the defense, she is periodically beaten in prison, sometimes to such an extent that she needs medical assistance. In addition, she survived an attempted rape, she is subjected to moral and physical pressure, due to which she already had a suicide attempt.
Her young daughter, whom she is allowed to see only twice a year, despite the presumption of innocence, now lives with the murderer’s family, in violation of French legislation that prohibits giving the child to persons who testified against the mother. Human rights defenders who work on the Bodnarchuk case filed an appeal demanding that the child be placed in a neutral family that would not turn her against her mother.
According to Edouard Martial, Sofia’s lawyer, the prosecution played the Russophobic card in court, trying to provoke the “necessary” verdict of the jury: “Lies” based on “a cliché about alleged manipulation by a girl from the East who does it only for money.”
Human rights defenders of the Foundation to Battle Injustice actively interact with the defense. The defence has asked the Foundation for assistance. The initiative group has requested the clarification from Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin, Minister of Justice Éric Dupond-Moretti and Prime Minister of France Jean Castex. The initiative group considers it important to fight against judicial arbitrariness and, if necessary, can provide legal and informational assistance to the Bodnarchuk family.
Letters of the Foundation to the French authrities