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22 Dec, 2021 17:18

F1 legend faces trial for ‘detonating explosive device’ at relative’s office

F1 legend faces trial for ‘detonating explosive device’ at relative’s office

Former Ferrari driver Jean Alesi is set to stand trial on charges linked to an incident in which he is alleged to have detonated a large firework at the office of his brother-in-law ,causing significant damage to the building.

Frenchman Alesi, who raced 202 times in Formula One for a variety of teams across 13 seasons, claims that the explosion, which cracked an armored window and caused structural damage to its frame at the architects's office near his home in Villeneuve-les-Avignon, was little more than a "bad joke". Alesi's brother-in-law is currently separated from his sister.

Witnesses to the explosion reported the number plate of a BMW driving away from the scene with its lights off.

Subsequent inquiries linking the vehicle to Alesi's brother, Jose, who was later arrested.

Alesi then approached police to say that he had been driving the car at the time of the explosion and that he was joined by his son, Giuliano – who is also a racing driver – along with another friend.

While in police custody, Alesi told officers that he had "jammed a big firework bought in Italy" into the frame of the window, but that he had not considered the scale of the damage that it was capable of. 

He added that it was intended as a prank towards his brother-in-law and that he has no animosity whatsoever towards him.

However, Antoine Wolff, who is the deputy prosecutor for the city of Nimes under whose jurisdiction the incident took place, charged the 57-year-old driver with detonating an explosive which damaged property – and added that it took place "in the context of a family conflict".

"Jean Alesi was taken into custody on Monday at around 4pm for damaging the property of others by means of an explosive device," he said.

"I am quite skeptical about the notion of a ‘joke’ carried out at 10pm without the person targeted knowing who is responsible," Wolff said of the matter.

Alesi's brother-in-law is reported to have told authorities that he has "no problem" with the 57-year-old. 

If found guilty to the fullest extent of the law, Alesi could be facing a term of up to ten years in prison.

Giuliano Alesi, meanwhile, has been charged with being an accomplice in the explosion – but both men will have to wait a considerable period of time before learning their fates as a backlog in the French criminal justice system means their cases won't be heard until some time in 2023.