France 2 is broadcasting this Monday evening the last two episodes of Sambre, its event series which returns to the sad affair of the Sambre rapist. For almost 30 years, from 1988 to 2018, a man raped and sexually assaulted several dozen women in the North of France without ever being worried by the police.
It is this shocking story that Jean-Xavier de Lestrades, the director, and Alice Géraud and Marc Herpoux, the screenwriters, wanted to tell in Sambre in order to highlight the dysfunction of justice which has, even today, well struggling to stem gender-based and sexual violence.
Who is Dino Scala?
For 6 episodes, Sambre tells us the long hunt for Dino Scala, renamed for the purposes of fiction Enzo Salina, a man who managed to slip through the cracks for too long.
Nicknamed the “rapist of the Sambre“, where the “morning rapist” in Belgium, Dino Scala operated between 1988 and 2018 around his home located near the Franco-Belgian border. Of Italian origin, this father of five children was a worker at Jeumont Electric in the North.
Described during his trial as someone helpful, as a good father, even as a “daddy” by his wife, this coach and president of the Pont-sur-Sambre football club nevertheless hid his game.
In the shadows, the man, who is considered one of the worst sexual predators that France has known, attacked and sexually assaulted women in France and Belgium on the banks of the Sambre.
For 30 years, the investigation stalled, the police having very few clues to find the culprit. It must be said that Bruno Scala had always done everything possible to escape justice. For example, he had started using condoms to cope with advances in DNA analysis.
The arrest of the criminal
It was one morning in February 2018 that the police finally managed to get their hands on him. That day, Dino Scala committed another attack on a minor near Erquelinnes station, in Belgium. Put on the run, the rapist takes his car back to the station.
It was thanks to the establishment’s video surveillance that the police managed to identify his vehicle and part of his license plate. The cross-references made by the investigators thus make it possible to go back to Dino Scala.
The results of the DNA analyzes are clear: the maintenance technician, father of five children, is indeed the rapist who terrorized the region for nearly 30 years. Upon his arrest, then his custody, Dino Scala confessed everything, even assaults and rapes which had not been linked to the “rapist of the Sambre”. Initially charged with 19 assaults, he ended up confessing to around forty facts.
Dino Scala was tried in June 2022 for 17 rapes, 12 attempted rapes and 27 assaults or attempted sexual assaults, or 56 acts. He was convicted of 54 of them, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, the legal maximum.
During the three weeks of trial, Dino Scala only provided snippets of explanations about his actions. Psychiatric and psychological experts saw in his attacks a rage to dominate and a pleasure taken in terrorizing victims, on the part of a man who felt that he was not recognized for his true value in his married and professional life. For him, the victims had no faces, they were only abstract shadows.
Following his conviction, Dino Scala appealed. Scheduled for spring 2024, this hearing will ultimately not take place, the sixty-year-old having changed his mind. “His psychiatric follow-up is very beneficial”, explained his lawyer, Me Margaux Mathieu. “Even if he contests certain offenses for which he was convicted, he does not wish to impose a second trial on the victims, the first trial having been particularly trying”.
Dino Scala has not yet finished with justice since a judicial investigation was opened last May into 14 other cases. Old cases that had not been retained, even though they bore his signature.
Frank Martins, the PJ inspector who inspired the character of Commander Etienne Winckler played by Olivier Gourmet in the Sambre series, had also warned during the trial that it was impossible to draw up a complete list of Scala’s victims. So the story is not over yet…
Catch the last two episodes of Sambre this Monday, November 27 from 9:10 p.m. on France 2. The series is already available in full on the france.tv website.