At the Paris Court of Appeal,
There was a feeling of deja-vu, this Friday, during the appeal trial of Alain Schmitt, accused of domestic violence by the Olympic champion, Margaux Pinot, with whom he had been in a relationship for four years. To the picture of the trial at first instancethe two former lovers delivered diametrically opposed versions of the events of the night of November 28, 2021, without ever exchanging a single glance.
The case had taken on media coverage. after the coach’s release during his first trial in the court of Bobigny, on November 30, for lack of evidence. The prosecution appealed the decision. For several weeks, the Olympic champion and former member of the France team of judo had fought a battle through interposed interviews and press conferences.
This Friday, it is in front of a packed house of the appeal court of Paris, filled with journalists and supporters, that the 43-year-old man was appearing for violence that led to more than ten days of ITT [Incapacité temporaire de travail]. The 28-year-old woman, for her part, appeared at the bar as a witness.
“I never raised my hand on Margaux”
For nearly three hours, the two ex-lovers returned to their “fusional, destructive” relationship, in the words of the Advocate General, and to the night of the events. That evening, it was around 2 a.m. when Alain Schmitt joined Margaux Pinot at his home in Blanc-Mesnil (Seine-Saint-Denis), after an alcoholic evening with friends. This is the lovers’ last night together before the coach flies off the next day to Israel, where he is to take charge of the women’s national team. A dispute breaks out between the two lovers who have been mixing professional life within the Étoile Sportive du Blanc-Mesnil club and personal life since 2017. Because if this departure is a professional springboard for Alain Schmitt, he marks the end of his relationship with the young woman, but also of her coaching cap.
Standing at the helm, tight-fitting green polo shirt, Alain Schmitt returns to the moment when his former companion “explodes”. “Margaux was super pissed off, she blamed me for letting her down,” he explains of his former girlfriend, whom he describes as “very destructive for herself and for others”. The young woman throws herself on him, the two lovers fall and start a fight on the ground. They bump and roll in the apartment for several minutes, says the coach.
Asked by the president about the “particular” and “significant” injuries on the face of his former companion, the judoka swears that they come from shocks against furniture or walls and assures that he never “raised his hand on Margaux. “It’s the fact that we hit the wall (…) It’s the hematoma that sank”, justifies the one who now trains the men’s and women’s national teams of Bulgaria after the cancellation of his contract in Israel.
“If I hadn’t run away, I think I would have died”
A few minutes later, the sportswoman, ponytail and blue blouse, in turn advances in front of the bar and delivers a radically different version. During their argument, Alain Schmitt told her that he would make “a point of honor to find someone (a judoka) in Israel who would beat her” and that she was “destructive”, says Margaux Pinot. “He pulls me by the hair, knocks me out of bed. He gets astride, he punches me, ”she says. The young woman gets up, tries to escape him by going to another room. At that moment, he catches up with her and “slams her head two or three times on the ground”. “Then he goes to strangle me. And there, I tell him “I love you! I love you! We’re going to get back together”. And he said to me “I leave you two minutes”, according to the young woman, who explains that she did this so that he would leave her alone. She then claims to have fled and to have taken refuge with a neighbour.
Asked by the president about the version given by her companion, Margaux Pinot “refutes”: “I experienced the most horrible scene of my life. If I hadn’t fled, I think I would have died under the blows (…) If I’m here today, it’s because I knew how to protect myself. In any case, he kicked me, that’s for sure.
Inconsistencies and version changes
Then Alain Schmitt’s lawyers intervene to point out the inconsistencies and changes in the version given by Margaux Pinot. The coach’s two advisers question her in particular on a photograph in the file, showing a lock of her hair, placed next to a pair of scissors, implying that she would have cut it herself. The wick, which was on the ground, was taken and moved by judoka Madeleine Malonga, justifies Margaux Pinot at the helm, explaining that her friend, who supported him in the days following the events, had taken a photo to keep a proof.
If he also regrets “the evolving explanations” of Alain Schmitt and Margaux Pinot, the Advocate General, who based himself “on the lesions noted on the two protagonists”, considers that Margaux Pinot’s version is “largely confirmed by medical findings. “If we look at the injuries, we have enough evidence to recognize Mr. Schmitt’s responsibility for the violence,” adds the magistrate.
A one-year suspended prison sentence was requested, as in the first instance. The decision will be made on June 10.