Christian Ranucci

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Christian Ranucci
Born Christian Jean Ranucci
(1954-04-06)April 6, 1954
Avignon, France
Died July 28, 1976(1976-07-28) (aged 22)
Baumettes prison, Marseilles, France
Cause of death
Beheading (guillotine)
Occupation Travelling salesman
Criminal charge
Child abduction
Child murder
Criminal penalty
Capital punishment
Criminal status
Executed by guillotine on July 28, 1976
Parents Jean Ranucci and Héloïse Mathon

Christian Ranucci (April 6, 1954 – July 28, 1976) was one of the last people executed in France, having been convicted of the abduction and murder of a young girl, Marie-Dolorès Rambla, on June 3, 1974[1].

He was tried in Aix-en-Provence in Southern France on March 9-March 10, 1976, and sentenced to death. His appeal for a second trial was denied by a higher court on June 17. President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing refused a pardon for Ranucci.

He was executed by guillotine at Baumettes prison in Marseilles, on July 28, 1976, at 4.13 am. Two of his lawyers, who witnessed the execution, said his last words were "Rehabilitate me!". Executioner André Obrecht wrote in his memoirs that, to the contrary, Ranucci said nothing before dying, having shouted a "Negative!" to the chaplain, refusing to receive communion.[2]

There has been some controversy regarding Ranucci's guilt. A novel by Gilles Perrault, entitled Le Pull-over rouge, disputed his involvement in the crime. The title of the book refers to an article of clothing, a red sweater, found near the victim's body similar to that worn by another abductor seen in late May 1974 in others Marseilles estates, who drove a car that did not belong to Ranucci, if the witnesses to the attempted abductions identified the vehicle correctly[3]. The sweater was not Ranucci's. The book became a film by Michel Drach in 1979 and another film in 2007. In 1990, Gilles Perrault was found guilty of defamation, having talked of "abuse of authority" about the policemen in charge of the investigation in a TV program, a sentence confirmed on appeals, and Perrault had to pay each of the plaintiffs 70,000 francs.[4] In 2008 Perrault and his publisher Fayard were found guilty of defamation against the Marseille police in another book, L'Ombre de Christian Ranucci. Perrault was fined 5,000 euros and his editor an equal sum, a decision confirmed on appeal in 2009. The appeal court also granted 10,000 euros in damages to each of the four policemen defamed.[5]

Since the publishing of Le Pull-over rouge, there has been three requests for a review of the Ranucci trial, all of it being at least fruitless. Between the late 1990s and the early 2000s, some researchers and specialists in criminal investigations, basing on Ranucci's penal files, confirmed and asserted his involvement in the abduction and murder of the little girl. Former president Giscard d'Estaing said in 2010 that he has no regrets about declining clemency to Ranucci, claiming that he was very guilty and that "he had to be punished".[6]

Further reading[edit]

  • Gérard Bouladou, L'Affaire du pull-over rouge : Ranucci coupable ! Un pull-over rouge cousu... de fil blanc, Nice, France-Europe Editions, 2005, 383 p.
  • Gérard Bouladou, Autopsie d'une imposture. L'affaire Ranucci : toute la vérité sur le pull-over rouge, Aix-en-Provence, Pascal Petiot Editions, 2006, 335 p.
  • Balbino Katz, "La petite fille et son meurtrier : L’incroyable affaire Ranucci ou comment innocenter un coupable", in Aventures et dossiers secrets de l’Histoire, Hors série n°30, June 2005, p. 42-61
  • Gilles Perrault, Le Pull-over rouge, Paris, Ramsay, 1978, 439 p. (republished in Le Livre de Poche in 1980)
  • Gilles Perrault, L'Ombre de Christian Ranucci - L'affaire du pull-over rouge (1974-2006), Paris, Fayard, 2006, 267 p.
  • Pierre Rambla, Le Cirque rouge, Paris, Société des écrivains, 2008, 298 p.
  • Christian Ranucci & Héloïse Mathon, Jusqu'au 28 juillet 1976 – Écrits d'un condamné, Paris, Hachette, 1980, 217 p.


  1. ^ Bouladou, 2006, p. 18.
  2. ^ Bouladou, 2006, p. 288.
  3. ^ Perrault, 1978, p. 330.
  4. ^ Cour de cassation, Chambre criminelle, du 4 février 1992, 90-86.069, Inédit.
  5. ^ Gilles Perrault et son éditeur condamnés pour diffamation, 27 janvier 2009, La Provence.
  6. ^ (Agence France-Presse (AFP) 8 octobre 2010).

External links[edit]