Two men are set to go on trial for involuntary homicide tomorrow (Thursday, November 17), following the hunting accident which resulted in the death of a 25-year-old who was chopping wood on his own land in 2020.
Morgan Keane was around 100 metres from his house in a hamlet near Calvignac (Lot) on December 2, 2020, when a 33-year-old hunter from Aveyron thought he saw a wild boar and shot.
The bullet hit and killed Mr Keane, and the hunter went voluntarily to the local gendarmerie to explain what had happened. He was then charged with involuntary homicide.
He will be tried at the court in Cahors alongside the director of the hunt on the day in question, who is accused of the same crime.
Mr Keane’s death provoked outrage across France, with a march organised in his honour and a group of his friends launching a petition – ‘Un jour, un chasseur’ – calling for stricter safety rules and two hunt-free days a week.
This petition gained the 100,000 signatures needed for a Senate debate on the issue, and 40 different audiences with organisations and individuals have been held over this year.
A report relating to these testimonies was published this month, with recommendations to improve training practices and more effectively prevent people from hunting while inebriated.
However, the Un jour, un chasseur group has criticised the report, saying that it dismisses almost all of the measures demanded in the original petition, even though they are “supported by an immense majority of people in rural settings”.
One of Mr Keane’s friends said of the trial: “We want those responsible to be banned for life from hunting and from carrying a firearm.
“The punishment must set an example, unlike other sentences [previously handed down] in this type of trial.”
She added that she hopes that this trial will raise questions about the way in which hunting works in France, especially in terms of safety measures.
Benoît Coussy, the lawyer representing Mr Keane’s brother Rowan, has said that his client – who was living at the same property, both of their parents being deceased – is still “in shock” over what happened, and is expecting “an apology”.
Mr Coussy will question the ‘involuntary’ nature of the hunter’s shot during the trial. He argued: “This is a homicide in that the rules were not respected. He shot without knowing what he was shooting at.”
The president of Lot’s Fédération de chasse, Michel Bouscary, has said: “We are thinking of Morgan Keane’s family,” but that the trial “must not transform into a trial over hunting on a national scale.
“We have suffered emotionally and we want to understand how this type of accident was able to happen,” so that the federation can take action to prevent such an event from occurring again.
Involuntary homicide is punished by a prison sentence of up to five years, and a €75,000 fine.
But Mr Coussy added that in this type of trial, a shorter sentence is often handed down, meaning that it is “not dissuasive”.
He will call for “more restrictive rules” and the recognition of a “hunting crime” rather than an accident.
Il est atteint au thorax par la balle d'un #chasseur.— Envoyé spécial (@EnvoyeSpecial) October 27, 2022
Le 2 décembre 2020, Morgan Keane, 25 ans, coupait du bois dans un bosquet sur sa propriété.
"On venait ici souvent et ça nous arrivait que des balles nous passent au-dessus de la tête" raconte son frère.#EnvoyeSpecial pic.twitter.com/yEXvOe6kwF