Monday, 10 January 2011
In his book, Eric Mouzin evokes all the years when he moved Heaven and earth trying to find his daughter.
In a book he gives testimony to his life since he has had no news of his daughter. And he talks of his sadness when the investigators suspected him.
The book starts with a disconcerting sentence: "I am not the one who abducted Estelle." This is how Eric Mouzin, father of this little nine-year-old girl, who mysteriously disappeared eight years ago in Germantes (Seine-et-Marne) begins his story. The book also ends in an unexpected way on a message addressed to his child's abductor. A call for him to return Estelle, who was abducted on January 9th 2003.
Between that odd beginning and that heartrending ending, Eric Mouzin opens up for the first time. In nearly two hundred pages* which reads uninterruptedly, he witnesses to what it is to be the father of a missing child. A multi-faceted status: first of all that of being a suspect. During the investigation, the first people to be suspected are those close to the victim. But for Eric Mouzin, a great many elements accumulated against him.
First of all, the divorce and the disagreements with his ex-wife, who threw at him one day: "Look me in the eye and tell me that it wasn't you who abducted Estelle." Inevitably, the investigators had envisaged a familial abduction by this father who was separated from his daughter. "Today, are they truly convinced of my innocence?" he still wonders.
Then there was the E-fit sketch of a possible abductor, distributed during the investigation, and which presented troubling similarities to him. Finally, his character played against him. "I was the block of marble," he says. Eric Mouzin never cried before the cameras, always adopted a cold distance and analysed situations tactlessly, as he does in the book. Politicians, officials, the media are, what's more, not described here in their best light.
Finally, being the father of a missing child is to be also a victim, a sad role which nowadays stops him laughing in front of others at the risk of getting funny looks.
Eric Mouzin also sweeps aside all the years in which he moved Heaven and earth in an attempt to find his daughter. Knocking on the doors of ministers, approaching celebrities and going abroad to see how authorities in those countries deal with saving these young victims. In vain. This overwhelmed and angry father also states that all the research has still not been conducted around Michel Fourniret, suspected of having possibly abducted his child.
Estelle is also evoked. With decency. Through short paragraphs that say much more about her than long outpourings. "Very soon Estelle will have spent more time missing than living," writes Eric Mouzin, who, this January 9th, will spend some moments in silence in Germantes. As every year for eight years.
* Retrouver Estelle published by Stock.
Le Figaro 7/01/11
Estelle Mouzin: left at age 9 when she disappeared and right in an age-advanced image, released in January 2010
MEAUX - Eight years after Estelle Mouzin's disappearance in Germantes in Seine-et-Marne, her father, Eric Mouzin, launches an "appeal to the abductors," in a book to appear on Wednesday (January 5th) with the hope "that the investigation is successful," at last.
"Retrouver Estelle," starts with this sentence: "I am not the one who abducted Estelle." Eric Mouzin explains wanting to, "clear up that phase when the investigators were suspicious," and "the idiotic comments that followed the distribution of the E-Fit sketch," which resembled him.
The little girl disappeared on the way home from school. She was nine years old. "Very soon, Estelle will have been missing for longer than she was alive," her father states bitterly in an interview with AFP.
"With this book, I want to make people aware of the difficulties faced by families of missing children," so that "the lessons learned may be useful to the greatest number of people," explains Eric Mouzin.
With this book, Eric Mouzin considers "having come to the final stage," "because we are certainly reaching the stage where we will know if the investigation is going to succeed or not," he continues.
This 54 year old family man, who says, "he has struggled for 8 years for the search for the truth to continue," also hopes that, "this investigation serves to improve the strategies," of the search.
"It's good that the Abduction Alert exists but it needs to be improved," and, "I call for the creation of a plan that is better known to the general public than that which currently exists," states Mr Mouzin.
At the end of the book "as an appendix," Eric Mouzin launches an "appeal to the abductor." "I am trying to use all means for the investigation to succeed," and, "if this books brings us leads, then the objective will be doubly accomplished," assures Mr Mouzin.
Last May, Estelle's family's lawyer asked the police to have three samples analysed, pieces of white laces and black gloves, provided by the Belgian authorities after the arrest of Michel Fourniret, who was sentenced to life in prison in May 2008 for the murders of seven young girls between 1987 and 2001.
On the day of her disappearance, on January 9th 2003, Estelle Mouzin was wearing white boots with long white laces, and black gloves were mentioned in the missing poster for the little girl. Interrogated after his arrest in June 2003, following an attempted abduction, Michel Fourniret had insisted that he was in Belgium on the day of Estelle's disappearance.
"For the moment, we don't have a timetable for the elements that have been requested," "We can't go on wasting time like this because every month that passes complicates the usefulness of the elements that could be examined in more detail," Mr Mouzin complains. At the same time, he explains that he doesn't want to be "preaching," and he's "not in the business of settling a score," with this book.
In January 2010, the police had launched a new appeal for witnesses attached to a photo of the little girl age-advanced as a teenager. That did not result in any useful leads.
As every year, in memory of the missing child, a public meeting , organised by L'Association Estelle, followed by a march will take place on Saturday (8th January) in Germantes (Seine-et-Marne), starting at 2pm in Marcel-Proust Place.
Family and friends marched in silent tribute to Estelle, who has been missing for eight years.
A hundred or so people got together this Saturday, January 8th, at the Place du Temps Perdu in Germantes (Seine-et-Marne) as a tribute to little Estelle, who disappeared eight years ago. "She would have been in my class and taken her bac this year," Laetitia, her best childhood friend, recounted in a trembling voice. Her eyes moist, the teenager confided: "The hardest part is going back to the place where she disappeared without knowing if I will ever see her again."
It's Eric Mouzin, Estelle's father, who leads off the silent march with his other two children, Arthur and Lucie, at his side. With heads lowered and averted gaze, the family carry the banner, "Help us to find her." Traumatised by her daughter's disappearance, Estelle's mother, who moved to South Africa several years ago, is not present. The rest of the procession is made up of family friends and relatives, residents of the village, children and friends.
"When we were kids, we loved to shut ourselves away in Estelle's shed, where we would play for hours," remembers Keiran, a childhood friend. The young man describes, "a lively, happy and creative child." "Even if she was upset by her parents' divorce, she would never have run away," he adds. Members of Estelle's family, her father in particular, have always refused to accept the runaway theory.
Eric Mouzin, a reserved man of few words, calmly lists, "the failings of the legal system and the weaknesses of the investigation which never turned up anything concrete." For a long time accused in the disappearance of his daughter, he continues to protest his innocence, notably in a book, "Retrouver Estelle." And he repeats his aim, "to fight to the end to find the truth."
Shortly before 5pm, the march reaches its destination and the procession reassembles around a Japanese cherry tree, planted at the place where the little girl was seen by a friend for the very last time. "I hope she'll be with us next year," confides Estelle's Godfather. Then, the piece of music written specially for Estelle starts up. Everyone is quiet. A bouquet of flowers is laid and the crowd begins to disperse.