Arlon Assizes: Six women and six men will try Philippe Lemaire from Monday

But before the debates began, the preliminary stage for the composition of the jury took place this Wednesday.

Yesterday afternoon there was an unusual amount of activity on the forecourt of Place Schalbert in front of the Arlon courthouse. Summoned at 2pm, 120 randomly selected citizens of the province of Luxembourg first waited in a long line to present their summons to a court clerk before entering the courtroom, which was too small for anyone to sit in. Once installed, sometimes standing, sometimes on the stairs, they were amazed when the usher’s stentorian voice informed them that one of the three magistrates was late and they would have to wait a good hour. Under the cool sun, they then reinvested the forecourt, which came back to life.

Only two hours late did the magistrate come through the crowd. The President of the Court, Olivier Warnon, after presenting the Court’s apology, was finally able to produce Philippe Lemaire, accused of murdering his companion. At last the long formalities of selecting the jury could begin.

Not everyone can be an oath

The President recalled the list of incompatibilities to serve on a jury. Persons associated with the investigation, political personnel from the minister to the humble local councillor, soldiers of all ranks, persons who have suffered a criminal conviction, members of the same family, clergy of a religion, the hearing impaired, anyone who does not have an adequate knowledge of French, Young people under 28 or over 65… are automatically excluded.

Those summoned will then be asked to express their wish not to be part of a jury that has to sit all of next week. Many reasons, professional, health-related, personal, can be given (a good forty have done so), but the decision rests exclusively with the court.

Just before 5:30 p.m., the list of potential jurors was read out.

However, the President specifically reminded that serving on a jury is a unique opportunity to become a real player in a court: “You will be able to experience strong emotions, an experience from which we will emerge richer but not unscathed.”

A process that lasted four hours

In a ballot box, which resembled a kind of milk jug from another time, the ballot papers of those remaining in the race had to be cast: 12 effective players and 4 substitutes were then determined. Their employer must pay them their wages and salaries for the duration of the process. The state pays them symbolic compensation.

Those chosen by lot can be challenged by either the Defense or the Advocate General (maximum eight each), and the President must ensure an equitable distribution of men and women (minimum four of each sex).

Fourteen were challenged (seven for the defense and seven for the Advocate General), some relieved, others frankly disappointed. Six men and six women were definitively appointed, as well as three alternates and one alternate. They will decide the fate of Philippe Lemaire next Friday. They listened to the President’s instructions and took the oath. The others were eventually released four hours after the trial began.

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