Bettencourt trial: the humiliation, fear and anger of the accused

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The long-awaited Bettencourt trial got under way in Bordeaux in south-west France last week, though not before some last-minute delays. Lawyers for some of the ten men accused of profiting from the frailty of L'Oréal heiress and billionaire Liliane Bettencourt sought, unsuccessfully, to postpone the hearing on procedural grounds. Then the prosecution announced that one of the defendants, Bettencourt's former nurse Alain Thurin, 64, would not be appearing as he had tried to hang himself from a tree, news that sent a collective shudder around the packed courtroom. Finally it was revealed that another of the accused, Carlos Vejarano, who managed a Seychelles island owned by Bettencourt, would also not be attending the court on medical grounds, and had produced a certificate for the judges.