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Monday, April 9, 2018

Michel Cardon, the mediatic French prisoner


For Michel Cardon, life stopped on October 29, 1977. That day he was remanded in custody for the death of a neighbor in Amiens, whom he killed during a small-time robbery and for which he ended up being sentenced to life imprisonment. Since then, the world of Cardon ended in the walls of the prison.

Cardon would probably have remained in absolute oblivion if it had not been for his cellmate for seven years, until 2015. Aware of the isolation Cardon lived in, he assured him that he would return to see how he was doing. He fulfilled his promise, becoming the first visit Cardon received in 38 years. Concerned about the situation of his former partner - "he is someone very old, locked in himself and demoralized", described the prisoner, identified only as Benoît-decided to tell the case of Cardon to the press.

On August 20, 2016, the regional newspaper La Voix du Nord revealed its history. The Parisian lawyer Eric Morain read it and became interested in that isolated and forgotten man in a prison in the north of the country. He became the second person to visit Cardon in almost four decades. And in his key to freedom, according to a report by El País. "I had before me a man who looked a bit like the image we have of Robinson Crusoe, his face was almost covered by his beard, but he wore a wonderful smile," he explained in a televised interview. But his condition affected him a lot. "It was difficult for him to talk because his mouth is twisted after an ischemic stroke, he also had trouble breathing because he has heart problems and partial blindness, and he is deaf in one ear," he said.

Touched, the lawyer decided to fight to get his release. "The society that has sanctioned you also decided to forget you," he lamented in an open letter. It was not his only weapon. He also decided to appeal directly to the president, Emmanuel Macron, requesting the first presidential pardon of his mandate. "I ask you, solemnly, to make use of your right of grace for the benefit of Michel Cardon, detained in Bapaume prison, under prison number 7147, for 40 years, three months and 14 days," Morain wrote to the Elysée on February 12. Finally, the presidential magnanimity has not been necessary. Cardon's sentence will add another 108 days, but not one more. Last week, the prosecutor's office in Arras, in the north of the country, announced that he will be released on June 1, although "on condition that his relocation abroad will be successful" for one year.

Although Morain is accustomed to mediating cases - he defends one of the alleged victims of the Islamist Tariq Ramadan's rape - this has particularly affected him. "This is one of my greatest professional emotions, it is also a great joy for him and I hope he can enjoy it fully," he said after hearing the court decision. Cardon will enter a shelter and reintegration center in the Paris region. There, he will have to learn almost everything again. The last time he could walk freely through the streets, the president was Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, there were only landlines and he had not even invented the word Internet yet.