(c. 1949–10 September 1977) was the last person to be guillotined in
France, at Baumettes Prison in Marseille.
He was a Tunisian
immigrant who had been convicted of the torture and murder of
21-year-old Elisabeth Bousquet in Marseille. Marcel Chevalier served as
Born in Tunisia around
1949, Djandoubi started living and working in Marseille, France in 1968,
as a packer. He lost his job in 1971 after a workplace accident removed
two-thirds of his right leg.
In 1973, a 21-year-old
woman named Elisabeth Bousquet filed a complaint against Djandoubi for
illegal confinement and cruelty, claiming that he had tried to force her
After his arrest and
eventual release from custody during the spring of 1973, Djandoubi drew
two other young girls into his confidence and then forced them to "work"
The idea of taking
revenge on his accuser never left his mind, however, and in July 1974 he
kidnapped Bousquet and took her into his home where, in full view of the
terrified girls, he beat the unfortunate woman mercilessly before
stubbing a lit cigarette all over her breasts and genital area. Despite
this Bousquet survived the ordeal, so Djandoubi took her by car to an
outskirt of Marseille and there strangled her.
On his return
Djandoubi warned the two girls to say nothing of what they had seen, and
it was not until Bousquet's body was identified one month after its
discovery in a shed by two children on 7 July 1974 that the girls
finally found the courage to take their story to the authorities.
After a lengthy
pre-trial process, Djandoubi eventually appeared in court in
Aix-en-Provence on charges of torture-murder, rape and premeditated
violence on 24 February 1977.
His main defence
revolved around the supposed effects of the amputation of his leg six
years earlier which his lawyer claimed had driven him to a paroxysm of
alcohol and violence, turning him into a "different" man. It was all to
no avail, however: on 25 February he was condemned to death.
An appeal against his
sentence was rejected on 9 June, and in the early morning of 10
September 1977, Djandoubi was woken to be informed that all hope of a
presidential reprieve had failed. Shortly afterwards, at 4:40 a.m., he
Hamida Djandoubi's life story is told
in the book When the Guillotine Fell written by the Canadian
author Jeremy Mercer.
While Djandoubi was the last person executed in
France, he was not the last condemned. But no more executions occurred
after capital punishment was abolished in France in 1981 following the
election of François Mitterrand.
The Execution of
In 1974, Tunisian immigrant Hamida Djandoubi
tortured and killed 22-year-old Elisabeth Bousquet in Marseilles,
France. He put out cigarettes on her body, lit her on fire,
strangled her and left her body in the Provencal countryside.
“When the Guillotine Fell,” a book by Jeremy Mercer,
relates the story of the Djandoubi and the history of the guillotine.
According to Mercer, Djandoubi was a depressed man who had lost part of
his leg in an accident.
“Handsome and exotic, he seduced and then controlled
several young women, before torturing one of them to death,” The
Associated Press says in its review of the book.
The case generated a great deal of attention
throughout France. Djandoubi would ultimately confess to Bousquet’s
murder, saying: “I put the scarf around her neck and she didn’t struggle
when I began to choke her. … I choked her for a few minutes and then I
asked for the flashlight so I could make sure she was really dead. At
one point, for reasons I can’t really explain, I kicked the girl’s nose
but she didn’t move.”
But despite Djandoubi’s confession, if the jury
concluded that there were “extenuating circumstances,” the death penalty
could still be avoided, according to Mercer. But the jury said “no,” and
Djandoubi would go to the guillotine.
On Sept. 10, 1977, convicted murderer Hamida
Djandoubi became the last person executed by guillotine in France.