The street artist from Nice accused of feminicide in the Seychelles facing justice

A work by Otom, last spring, under the arcades of the Galeries Lafayette in downtown Nice – E. Martin / ANP / 20 Minutes

  • Since May 5, the street artist from Nice Otom has been imprisoned in the Seychelles. He is accused of the murder of his 32-year-old partner.
  • The local police evoke a murder disguised as suicide.
  • Thomas Debatisse, whose real name is, denies the facts and will be tried on Tuesday before the local supreme court while in France an investigation has been opened for “intentional homicide by spouse”.

He likes to graffiti faces that represent “the joy of living, bright smiles and laughing eyes”. For Otom, who told his drawings to 20 Minutes a few weeks ago, the scenery radically changed. Everything changed. Since May 5, the artist from Nice has been imprisoned in the Seychelles, accused of the murder of his 32-year-old companion, detailed Nice morning this weekend after first revelations by Seychelles news agency on May 26th.

Thomas Debatisse, whose real name is, denies and his relatives think he is incapable, but he will stand trial on June 8 before the local supreme court. And the French justice also opened an investigation for “voluntary homicide by spouse”. 20 Minutes takes stock of what Seychelles police believe to be murder disguised as suicide.

What happened ?

The facts date back to April 27. That day, while staying with Otom at Club Med on Île Saint-Anne, Emmanuelle Badibanga was found hanging from the towel rack in their bathroom. It is his companion who would have discovered it thus. The autopsy report carried out on the spot would establish that the death was not due to a hanging but to a strangulation, suggesting a murder disguised as suicide. The local judicial authorities consider this death as “strongly suspect”, confirms the public prosecutor of Nice where an investigation for “voluntary homicide by spouse” was opened. “We were seized on May 7 of these facts by the Paris prosecutor’s office, itself informed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and we seized on May 12 the judicial police of Nice,” said Xavier Bonhomme.

There, the police could also be looking for another suspect on the run. Asked about this by 20 Minutes, the prosecutor indicates that he “does not wish, at this stage, to communicate more”, on “this sensitive file under investigation”.

What to expect from Tuesday’s hearing?

In a statement released on May 27, local police said Thomas Debatisse had been “formally charged” with the murder of his partner, a crime punishable by life imprisonment under article 194 of the Seychelles Penal Code. Placed in pre-trial detention, he is due to appear before the Supreme Court on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. The Seychelles justice is based on British law, it is directly at the hearing that the judge will assess whether the charges are sufficient to judge him and launch new investigations, in particular on the personality of Otom. He will have to plead guilty or not guilty. In front of the police, in any case he proclaimed his innocence. His family has appointed a lawyer based in Rouen to defend him.

“Unable to do such a thing”, according to his relatives

The news of the death of Emmanuelle Badibanga, originally from the Var and manager of La Passerelle, a room offered for rent in Nice, and of the arrest of her companion had the effect of a bomb on the Côte d ‘Azure. The relatives of the victim are in shock. “She was a ray of sunshine,” her cousin explained to Nice morning. Also shocked, those close to Otom believe him “incapable of doing such a thing”. “I have been painting with him for 15 years, having worked with him, he has always done everything to share in art, to bring together, to transmit a lot of love, says the artist Brian Caddy to 20 Minutes. And there, he would have killed the woman who had shared his life for over a year and with whom he had a lot of projects? And he would have made it up in suicide? In addition, it is he who warned the relatives of Emmanuelle of her death… ”Could he have been the victim of a stroke of madness? ” I do not believe it at all. It’s impossible, ”he says.

Asked by Nice morning, Christian Estrosi’s cultural assistant also portrays “an adorable boy, very kind, appreciated by everyone”. “It’s been six years since we entrusted him with the task of painting the palisades of the tram site,” recalls Robert Roux. Since then, he has come an incredible journey. Founder of the Whole Street association, Otom estimated, in March, in 20 Minutes to have changed mentalities on the Côte d’Azur regarding graffiti. “Ten years ago, the city of Nice was hunting tags. Today, we are inaugurating a wall of free expression. Little by little, we are making our art acceptable, ”he explained.

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