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French judge lied to us.. and the Irish embassy said our fight was a lost cause; MURDERED TREVOR'S FAMILY TELL OFDISGUST.

Byline: TIM FINAN

THE mother and aunt of a hitch-hiker murdered 16 years ago in France spoke yesterday of their anger at the Irish and French authorities.

Eroline O'Keefe and Noeleen Slattery told of their frustration as they try to find the killer of Trevor O'Keefe, 20.

They claimed a French judge lied to them, authorities in both countries treated them with contempt and the Irish embassy said their campaign was a lost cause.

Eroline, a self-employed driving instructor from Naas, Co Kildare, and her sister spoke out as a court ordered convicted rapist Pierre Chanal to be placed under permanent guard.

Chanal, an elite former soldier, attempted to commit suicide on Monday in a bid to avoid facing a court appearance yesterday on charges of kidnapping and murdering Trevor and two French conscripts.

A judge heard he was still in a coma but off the danger list. Now he will be supervised at all times to prevent another suicide bid.

Chanal may be fit enough to stand trial next Monday if doctors give the go ahead. The supervision order was imposed at the request of the O'Keefes' French lawyer Eric Dupont-Moretti.

Speaking after the verdict Eroline told reporters: " It was a very good decision by the judge.

"I think there is now light at the end of the tunnel. I feel a bit numb but I have hope we will get there in the end.

"I won't say whether I think Pierre Chanal is guilty. For me he is innocent until proven guilty.

"But we have fought for 16 years for justice for Trevor. It has cost me both my arms and my legs financially.

"About eight years ago I calculated that it had cost me pounds 25,000. I dread to think what it has cost me in all. I have been backwards and forwards from Ireland to France dozens of times, more times than I can count."

Asked whether she had been helped by the Irish embassy she replied: "They helped with the repatriation of Trevor's body but after that they just told me to give up.

"After that I was always made to think I was on my own.

"They just told me they couldn't do anything. I was treated as a non-person."

The darkest moment for Eroline came when a judge in charge of the case - but since transferred - allegedly told her to go away, saying there was nothing he could do.

She said: "I asked him where Trevor's personal effects where and he said he didn't know.

"Then he went into a room behind his office and came back with some clothes and Trevor's haversack and just tossed them on the floor in front of me. I nearly broke down in anger and grief.

"He had lied to me and given me no hope at all of any justice for my son."

Chanal is described by doctors as psychotic and sadist and is also suspected of killing five other young men in the 1980s.

But no charges have been brought for the murders of those men because of lack of material evidence and their bodies have never been found.

A trained commando, Chanal was taught to kill with his bare hands and conceal the corpses.

He was arrested in 1988 for raping a Hungarian man in his van and jailed for 10 years.

DNA analysis of hairs found in his vehicle established the link with Trevor, whose body was found in a shallow grave in Alaincourt, and the murdered Frenchmen.

Yesterday several lengths of rope and a vibrator which Chanal is alleged to have used on some of his victims were on show in court in Reims.

Relatives of the all the murdered men have campaigned tirelessly for years to bring Chanal to justice.

But in a radio interview he said he would rather die than go back to jail.

On Monday he almost succeeded in killing himself with an overdose of barbiturates.

Doctors found him slumped in his car and rushed him to hospital where he was placed on a stomach pump.

On Friday a court doctor will examine him to establish whether he will be fit to stand trial next week.

Eroline added: "The whole family will be there when he finally stands in the dock.

"Then maybe we will find out what really happened to Trevor."

CAPTION(S):

ACCUSED: Pierre Chanal; VICTIM: Trevor O'Keefe; SEARCH FOR JUSTICE: Eroline O'Keefe, left, and her sister Noeleen Slattery with lawyer Eric Dupont-Moretti outside the court in Reims yesterday
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 14, 2003
Words:754
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