The story of a witness of the attack on Federico Martín Aramburú: “I think that if I could, I would have killed him with my fists”

Three weeks have passed since that amazing dawn, first in Paris and then in Argentina, where the news and repercussions began to arrive. The murder of the former Puma Federico Martín Aramburú, in the Latin Quarter, on Saturday 19 March, at the hands of two far-right militants, he shook the world of sport, especially rugby. The Argentine exrugbier was 42 years old, married and father of two daughters and had lived for several years in Biarritz, in the heart of the Basque Country in southwestern France. Among other business ventures, he was in charge of a tourism company together with his New Zealand partner Shaun Hegartywho also played rugby in Gallic territory with him.

Le Mabillon café, in Paris
Le Mabillon café, in ParisKindness HPRG

The facts had several versions. The three involved in the murder of Martín Aramburu, Loik Le Priol, Romain Bouvier and Lison (the woman who drove the Jeep), were arrested in the following days (the first of them, on the Hungarian border with Ukraine) and already prosecuted by French justice. The week after the event, Martín Aramburú’s remains were buried in Biarritz after a religious ceremony in the presence of family, friends, former club and rugby mates in general and relatives. Also former companions of the litters 80/81 of San Isidro Athletic Societywhich was the club where Martín Aramburú trained before joining European rugby.

About 700 people gathered in front of the church of Santa Eugenia in Biarritz for the funeral of Federico Martín Aramburú
About 700 people gathered in front of the church of Santa Eugenia in Biarritz for the funeral of Federico Martín Aramburútwitter

While every weekend the acts and tributes continue on the Argentine courtsFrench and English where Martín Aramburu has left his mark, in the last few hours the shocking testimony of a witness has emerged of the events of that tragic morning. A neighbor of the Paris area that told his story to the French newspaper L’Equipe. Of having witnessed from his house the origin of the incidents, which took place in a bar (Le Mabillon) in the area of ​​St. Germain des Pres, with quarrels and quarrels between Martín Aramburú and Hegarty with their attackers, and which then continued in near the hotel, where the former Argentine player was hit by four gunshots that ended his life.

The witness, whom L’Equipe simply called “Claude”he told how he lived that morning, what feelings the whole episode left him, his regret and many peculiarities.

“I was sleeping that morning,” says Claude. Even though the windows in my apartment are double glazed, loud shouts and insults woke me up. My first instinct was to go and see. It was about 6:55 am exactly, something that was corroborated by the video surveillance images. The climax of the fight is difficult to describe, but I hear a man – whom I now identify as Loik Le Priol, prosecuted as the perpetrator – shout, but really shout (insists), insult and always at the same person, whom I did not know, in that moment, who it was. Despite the time, there are a lot of people at the windows, which attests to the violence of the scene. She is so violent, so determined, and I see that the man on the ground doesn’t react that much. For a split second I think he made a mess and ‘accepted’ to be beaten. “

Martín Aramburu towards the goal in the 2007 World Cup against Georgia
Martín Aramburu towards the goal in the 2007 World Cup against GeorgiaRODRIGO NESPOLO – NIKON Digital

“This scene only lasts a few seconds. Martín Aramburu falls to the ground in a very short time. Immediate intervention by the guys from the bar below. I’ve seen fights before, but this is surreal due to the determination of one of the people. The restaurant staff can be identified because he is wearing the uniform. They were super efficient and managed to separate everyone. That’s when I realize it’s two against two (suspect Le Priol and Romain Bouvier against former rugby players Federico Martín Aramburu and his friend Shaun Hegarty). “

Le Priol’s aggression catches Claude’s attention and makes comments about him. “I feel the determination of Le Priol, even if at the moment I don’t know who he is. He tries to come back, he continues to insult. But he was stopped by someone I haven’t identified. I’m sure if I could have gone back, I would have. And I think if I could have punched him to death, I would have punched him to death.. She was yelling, ‘Fucking mother!’ What struck me as mad was the contrast between attitudes. I saw Martín Aramburu on the ground. He wasn’t even trying to get up and answer. It is very subjective but now that I know the profile of the protagonists, I think they chose Martín Aramburú because Hegarty scared them a lot. It’s a closet! Shaun had a black eye. Federico’s face was very swollen. Nobody talks about this fight, it was short but very violent.

Loïk le Priol, the alleged murderer of the former Puma Federico Martín Aramburú
Loïk le Priol, the alleged murderer of the former Puma Federico Martín Aramburú Front: loïk le priol

Claude interprets the outcome of that moment as Martín Aramburú and Hegarty must have thought “We ran into two idiots in their twenties” and that they decided to end the episode, returning to the hotel where they were staying. They were in Paris to attend the decisive match of the Six Nations Championship between France and England the following day. Previously, Martín Aramburú had shared a dinner with other former Pumas, such as Marcelo Bosch, Jose Orengo and Octavio Bartolucciamong others, in the Argentine restaurant “Volver”.

Claude goes back to his version of events. “At one point, the two attackers are pushed into the street. There, I remember seeing a guy holding Le Priol, who tried several times to get something out of his pocket! From my window I wanted to scream, but I didn’t. I told myself “They will think I’m crazy”. I said to myself: ‘At worst, it’s a knife’. I have seen fights, but this is rare, it is the first time I have the feeling that it can go further, the alleged attacker seemed very determined. Nobody seemed to be able to calm him down. It was clear to me that Martín Aramburu did not want to fight. If what the media is reporting is true, they had just defended someone who allegedly had been insulted. “

The shots and the horror

Claude tells the story as a story, which sadly it is not. In an instant, everything calms down in Le Mabillon, the bar where the first meeting took place. What did he do? “I close the window when the fight is over, it seems like everyone is going home. Bartenders are tidying up the bar. I can’t tell you where Le Priol, Bouvier and the girl are going, but the Jeep is there. I go back to bed. I look at my phone. I close my eyes, I don’t have time to do it when six shots are heard. Everything breaks in three seconds in my head: are shots, that’s probably what he had in his pocket! I say to myself: ‘You get upGo tell what you saw and make up for the mistake you made by not yelling at the window ‘. I go back to the window, I don’t see anyone at the scene of the fight, I see two or three boys running away in the middle of the avenue, towards the area where the shots were coming from.

Martín Aramburú's funeral in Biarritz: Gonzalo Quesada arrives
Martín Aramburú’s funeral in Biarritz: Gonzalo Quesada arrivesTwitter @ L’Equipe

The moment in which Claude lives is tense. What seemed like a simple night fight, rather aggressive indeed, may have gone badly. She leaves her apartment and runs to the area where she heard the shots. Along the way she notices the bullfights, she hears the sirens. She still doesn’t know whether to link the shots to the fight, but she senses it. He reaches the area where the carabinieri are already there.

“I meet two or three people at the Buci-Saint-Germain intersection – says Claude-. I ask them if the blows are related to the fight in the bar and one of them replies, very calmly: “They shot him!” When I arrived, the ambulance was already there. It looked like they were trying to revive someone. I see Martín Aramburu. I also see Hegarty sitting slumped against a wall, surrounded by several people, staring completely blank. It’s like a scene from a movie, but it’s not a movie. I am dizzy, I don’t feel much, I don’t cry. There are cops everywhere the ambulance doctors are doing everything possible to revive Martín Aramburú “.

Claude stays on site from approximately 6:30 to 11:00. The police told him when he started telling the story of the fight he saw from the window. They tell him that a police armband appears on the scene. That is why there is the initial idea that the attacker was a member of the force. A chronology of what happened was made, taking data from five or six people, one of whom was Claude. “Shaun was still calm. We smoke a cigarette together. I often hear a name: ‘Maria, Maria’. I soon realized that she was Martín Aramburú’s wife. I only found out that you were a famous rugby player at noon. “

One of the many CASI tributes, in the URBA
One of the many CASI tributes, in the URBATHE NATION / Hernan Zenteno

The night watchmen say that Martín Aramburú and Hegarty stopped at the Welcome Hotel, on Boulevard St Germain and Rue de Seine, to ask for ice. One of the witnesses told Claude what one of the guards had mentioned when they testified: “We always help the night owls, we give them water, some cigarettes. Some are violent, aggressive. They only came to ask for ice because their hands were swollen. They seem to have had a fight. ” A few meters from there, Martín Aramburu was attacked and shot dead a few minutes later.

Another tribute, but in Biarritz, his favorite club in France
Another tribute, but in Biarritz, his favorite club in FranceTHE NATION / Hernan Zenteno

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