The self-confessed serial murderer and rapist Michel Fourniret has angered families of his victims with a series of stunts at the start of his trial in northern France.
M. Fourniret, 65, who admits seven murders and seven sexual assaults in France and Belgium in 1987-2003, refused at first to speak in court. He held up a piece of paper printed with the words "sans huis clos, bouche cousue", meaning that he planned to keep his mouth shut unless the trial was held in private. He answered questions about his identity only with nods of his head.
He then handed the chairman of the judges a scroll, wrapped with a red ribbon. Breaking his silence, M. Fourniret said that the scroll was a "statement, which I intended to read out. If the trial is not to be held in camera, I ask you to read the statement to the court".
The chairman of the assize court in Charleville-Mézières, Gilles Latapie, refused to do so but said that the statement would be added to the court record.
A lawyer for the family of one of his victims, Maître Alain Behr, accused M. Fourniret of "grotesque behaviour" and "wanting to give the impression of being in charge".
M. Fourniret's wife, Monique Olivier, 59, is on trial for helping him to "hunt" and entrap virgins by posing as a friendly woman or as the distressed mother of a sick baby. She is accused of taking part in one murder and complicity in four other killings.
The trial is expected to last two months.