The trial of Bruno Cholet, 55, was suspended for 24 hours only 20 minutes after it began on Tuesday when he said he was feeling unwell and was sent to hospital for tests.
With the victim’s family looking on from the front row, Cholet told the court Wednesday he was feeling well enough for the trial, which is scheduled to run until September 14, to continue.
He said his bout of ill-health was probably due to heatstroke and recounted what he said was a troubled childhood with him being pushed around in foster care like a “sack of potatoes”.
“My schooling took place in jail,” said Cholet, whose first brush with the law occurred at the age of 12 when he stole a bicycle.
He admitted to a delinquent adolescence spent on the streets of Paris and on the French Riviera and claimed he was raped by three sailors when he was about 14.
Cholet is charged with the murder of Susanna Zetterberg, a 19-year-old student from Stockholm, who he allegedly picked up in his taxi outside a Paris nightclub in April 2008.
Zetterberg’s partially burnt body was discovered in a forest near Paris the day she went missing. An autopsy showed she had been shot at least four times in the head.
Police traced the crime to Cholet, who was allegedly found with a pistol, handcuffs and other material containing Zetterberg’s DNA in his possession. A plastic bag with her name written on it was also allegedly found.
Cholet, a convicted rapist and armed robber, denies any involvement and claims police fabricated evidence.
His 77-year-old mother, who has recently undergone knee surgery and his father, who has to use a walker, were not present in court. But his mother sent a letter to the judge requesting leniency which was read out in court.
“My son is a good boy, don’t be too hard on him”, Marie-Louise Cholet wrote.
“He lets himself get swayed easily …it’s a mother who is writing to you with a lot of pain.”