Sid Ahmed Rezala

Last updated
Sid Ahmed Rezala
BornMay 13, 1979
DiedJune 28, 2000(2000-06-28) (aged 21)
Cause of death Suicide
Other names"The Killer of the Trains"
Height5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Nadia(m. 1997)
Children1 daughter (b. 1998)
Span of crimes
October 13, 1999–December 14, 1999
Date apprehended
January 11, 2000

Sid Ahmed Rezala (May 13, 1979 – June 28, 2000) was an Algerian-born French serial killer, dubbed "The Killer of the Trains". He was suspected of killing at least three women in 1999. Arrested in Portugal in early 2000, he confessed his murders to a reporter from the Figaro Magazine . [1] Several weeks after, he committed suicide before he could be extradited to France. He was asphyxiated by intentionally setting fire to the mattress in his cell while his prison guards watched football on TV. [2]

A serial killer is typically a person who murders three or more people, usually in service of abnormal psychological gratification, with the murders taking place over more than a month and including a significant period of time between them. Different authorities apply different criteria when designating serial killers. While most set a threshold of three murders, others extend it to four or lessen it to two. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines serial killing as "a series of two or more murders, committed as separate events, usually, but not always, by one offender acting alone".

Portugal Republic in Southwestern Europe

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located mostly on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe. It is bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.

Le Figaro Magazine is a French language weekly news magazine published in Paris, France. The magazine is the weekly supplement of the daily newspaper Le Figaro.



Born in Algeria, Sid Ahmed Rezala moved with his parents, brothers and sister to the southern French port of Marseille in 1994. Within weeks of registering at a Marseille high school, he began playing truant and mixing with petty criminals and drug dealers around the Marseille St Charles Train Station, and riding on trains. [3] In early 1995, three months before his 16th birthday, Rezala was arrested for the rape of a 14-year-old boy. [4] On December 7, 1995, the 16-year-old rapist was sentenced in juvenile court to four years imprisonment. [5] He was released in late 1996 after 18 months in prison.[ citation needed ]

Marseille Second-largest city of France and prefecture of Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur

Marseille is the second-largest city of France. The main city of the historical province of Provence, it nowadays is the prefecture of the department of Bouches-du-Rhône and region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. It is located on France's south coast near the mouth of the Rhône river. The city covers an area of 241 km2 (93 sq mi) and had a population of 852,516 in 2012. Its metropolitan area, which extends over 3,173 km2 (1,225 sq mi) is the third-largest in France after Paris and Lyon, with a population of 1,831,500 as of 2010.

Gare de Marseille-Saint-Charles railway station

Marseille – Saint-Charles is the main railway station and intercity bus station of Marseille. It is the southern terminus of the Paris–Marseille railway. It opened on 8 January 1848, having been built for the PLM on the land of the Saint Charles Cemetery. The station is perched on top of a small hill and is linked to the city centre by a monumental set of stairs. Since 2001 the TGV has dramatically reduced the travel time between Marseille and Northern France, traffic has increased from 7.1 million annual passengers in 2000 to 15 million in 2007 and the station is currently the 11th busiest in France.

Juvenile court Court to try minors for legal offenses

A juvenile court is a tribunal having special authority to pass judgements for crimes that are committed by children or adolescents who have not attained the age of majority. In most modern legal systems, children or teens who commit a crime are treated differently from legal adults that have committed the same offense.

In 1998, he was sent to a young offenders institution at Luynes near Aix-en-Provence, for pulling a knife on a French railway employee. [4] On June 29, 1999, he was released from jail. [6]

Luynes, Bouches-du-Rhône human settlement in France

Luynes is a village of the Bouches-du-Rhône département in southern France. It is located 4 km south of Aix-en-Provence at the intersection of the D7 and N8 roads. The village is perhaps best known for its prison and for its three international schools. The Nécropole Nationale de Luynes is also located nearby.

Aix-en-Provence Subprefecture and commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Aix-en-Provence, or simply Aix, is a city-commune in the south of France, about 30 km (19 mi) north of Marseille. A former capital of Provence, it is in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, in the department of Bouches-du-Rhône, of which it is a subprefecture. The population of Aix numbers approximately 143,000. Its inhabitants are called Aixois or, less commonly, Aquisextains.

French police launched a massive manhunt for Sid Ahmed Rezala in December 1999 after the murder of British student Isabel Peake who was thrown from a train, and the subsequent killings of a 36-year-old French mother and a one-time girlfriend. [7] Having fled to the Portuguese capital via Spain, Rezala made a phone call to his girlfriend from a public call box – unaware that investigators in France had tapped her phone. [8] On January 11, 2000, Rezala's hiding place was snuffed out by Portuguese police, who arrested the man in Barreiro, south of Lisbon. He had been staying in Almada with friends of a Spanish acquaintance and was planning to leave within 24 hours for Spain's Canary Islands. [9]

Lisbon Capital city in Lisbon metropolitan area, Portugal

Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with an estimated population of 505,526 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km2. Its urban area extends beyond the city's administrative limits with a population of around 2.8 million people, being the 11th-most populous urban area in the European Union. About 3 million people live in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area. It is mainland Europe's westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast. Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus. The westernmost areas of its metro area form the westernmost point of Continental Europe, which is known as Cabo da Roca, located in the Sintra Mountains.

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located on the Iberian Peninsula in Europe. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

Barreiro, Portugal Municipality in Lisbon, Portugal

Barreiro is a town and a municipality in Setúbal District in Portugal. The population in 2011 was 78,764, in an area of 36.39 km².

On June 28, 2000, the 21-year-old Rezala, who confessed to killing three women, killed himself by setting fire to his cell in the psychiatric wing of the Caxias Prison Hospital near Lisbon where he was being held awaiting extradition to France [10] to face trial for the murder of three women. [11]

Caxias (Oeiras) Civil parish in Lisboa, Portugal

Caxias is a former civil parish in the municipality of Oeiras, Portugal. In 2013, the parish merged into the new parish Oeiras e São Julião da Barra, Paço de Arcos e Caxias. The population in 2011 was 9,007, in an area of 3.41 km².

Extradition is an act where one jurisdiction delivers a person accused or convicted of committing a crime in another jurisdiction, over to their law enforcement. It is a cooperative law enforcement process between the two jurisdictions and depends on the arrangements made between them. Besides the legal aspects of the process, extradition also involves the physical transfer of custody of the person being extradited to the legal authority of the requesting jurisdiction.


Rezala is suspected of murdering at least these three women:

Isabel Peake

Isabel Peake, a 20-year-old English student at Limoges university, who was waiting at Limoges station for a train to Paris on her way home to Barlaston, Staffordshire. [12] On 13 October 1999, she boarded the train to Paris, on her way home for a visit. Her body was found the next day by a local farmer who discovered her partially-clothed and dismembered corpse, and her baggage was found strewn along the line. Before dawn, police think she was pushed from the train as it travelled at about 125km/h (78mph) through the disused station at Chabenet, central France, [12] possibly after a sexual assault. [4]

Limoges Prefecture and commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Limoges is a city and commune, the capital of the Haute-Vienne department and was the administrative capital of the former Limousin region in west-central France.

Barlaston village in the United Kingdom

Barlaston is a village and civil parish in the borough of Stafford in the county of Staffordshire, England. It is roughly halfway between the city of Stoke-on-Trent and the small town of Stone. According to the 2001 census the population of the parish was 2,659, rising at the 2011 Census to 2,858.

Staffordshire County of England

Staffordshire is a landlocked county in the West Midlands of England. It borders with Cheshire to the northwest, Derbyshire and Leicestershire to the east, Warwickshire to the southeast, West Midlands and Worcestershire to the south, and Shropshire to the west.

Émilie Bazin

Émilie Bazin, a 20-year-old student, was found strangled in a house in Amiens, northern France. [13] On December 17, 1999, her decomposed body was discovered by police, two months after her death, buried beneath a heap of coal in a cellar in Amiens. [9] Traces of Rezala's DNA were found on her body. [14]

Corinne Caillaux

On December 14, 1999, Corinne Caillaux, 36, was stabbed to death in the lavatory of a Calais to Ventimiglia overnight train while her infant son slept in a carriage. [15] Guards found her slumped in a pool of blood in a train toilet. She had been stabbed at least 13 times while her 6-year-old son lay sleeping, [16] and died later from her injuries. The inspectors found a blood-soaked baseball hat close to her body. Rezala was wearing a similar cap when he was found travelling without a ticket about two hours earlier, on the journey from Calais to Ventimiglia on the Italian frontier. DNA tests are being conducted on hairs found in the hat. Police have records of Rezala's DNA taken after earlier crimes. [17]

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  1. Jacqueline Coignard, "Rezala avoue tout devant un journaliste. De sa prison, il raconte, avec force détails, les meurtres des trois jeunes femmes", Libération , May 20, 2000. (in French)
  2. Lesley Hussell, "Isabel's Killer Dies as Prison Guards Watch Soccer on TV", Daily Mail , June 30, 2000.
  3. Paul Webster, "Teen rapist with the cruel mind of a child", The Guardian , January 16, 2000.
  4. 1 2 3 "A sinister charmer", BBC News , January 15, 2000.
  5. Condamné trois fois depuis 1995", Le Télégramme , January 12, 2000. (in French)
  6. Naour, Sylvestre; Simmonot, Dominique; Tourancheau, Patricia, "Les vies multiples d'Ahmed Sid Rezala. Jeune père, délinquant, charmeur et serial killer présumé: portrait de l'homme le plus recherché de France.", Libération, December 20, 2000. (in French)
  7. "Suspect serial killer seized", The Irish Times , January 12, 2000.
  8. "Train killer attempts suicide", The Portugal News , January 22, 2000.
  9. 1 2 "French 'train killer' caught in Lisbon", The Portugal News, January 15, 2000.
  10. "'Train killer' dies in prison fire", The Guardian, June 30, 2000.
  11. Bell, Susan & Andrew Walker, "Train murder suspect kills himself in cell", The Scotsman , June 30, 2000.
  12. 1 2 "Peake suspect's alleged victims", BBC News , June 29, 2000.
  13. "'Confession' in Peake murder", BBC News, May 19, 2000.
  14. Stéphane Albouy, "L'ADN de Rezala l'accuse formellement", Le Parisien , August 30, 2000. (in French)
  15. "Outrage at bungles that let Isabel killer escape justice", by Patrick Bishop in Paris and Maurice Weaver, The Telegraph , June 30, 2000.
  16. "French police seek suspect in night-train murder", Deseret News , December 20, 1999.
  17. John Lichfield, "French police hopeful in hunt for train killer", The Independent , December 17, 1999.