“Until now I was the mother whose son had been killed, now I am the mother who has won the murderer’s trial.” Katja Faber, granddaughter of the famous Spanish conductor Ataúlfo Argenta, speaks from Zurich, where she has traveled these days to attend the last chapter of the legal battle that she has been waging for seven years and from which she has emerged victorious. She has managed to have Bennet V. found guilty of the death of her son Alex and to have his sentence multiplied by four: from the three years imposed by the previous court to 12.
The hearing was held on May 30 and 31 at the Zurich Court of Appeal. Katja sat behind the large group of journalists who have followed the event, as close as possible to the accused. Millionaire, winner, playboy, 1.95 meters, with knowledge of martial arts. This is how the press has portrayed it.
Until getting there, the process had gone through several instances with disparate failures. In 2017, the court that first tried Bennet sentenced him to 12.5 years for three crimes. In Switzerland it is customary to answer for several accusations in a single trial, explains Katja. She got nine years for the intentional murder of Alex; three for sexually assaulting his girlfriend shortly before, and six months for reckless driving.
Bennet appealed the ruling. His defense, very well armed – “three lawyers, one only to deal with the press”, says Katja -, alleged that he had suffered a psychotic break caused by the cocktail of ketamine, cocaine and alcohol that he ingested that night. In this state, he claimed, he mistook Alex for “a green alien with red eyes and long ears.” He did not own the acts of him.
The court gave credence to his version and granted him clemency. He annulled the conviction for sexual assault, considering that it was not proven, and reduced the sentence for the murder of Alex to three years that he had to serve, no longer in prison, but in a treatment center for convicts with drug problems.
Days after this setback -December 2019- Katja attended us from her farm in Malaga, in full harvest of avocados. She was then a knocked out mother. “She is considered guilty only of putting herself in such an intoxicated and drugged state that she was not responsible for what she did. And this does not seem fair to my son,” she said.
Alex Morgan -23 years old-, the result of her marriage to the British financier B. J. Morgan, was the eldest of her three children. The couple separated and Katja and the children moved to Zurich, where Alex met Bennet, heir to a renowned art dealer and aristocrat. He boasted of having sold a Chagall at the age of 16. At 24 he already had his own gallery. Alex lived more discreetly, in London, employed in a real estate company, recently graduated in Business Administration.
On December 29, 2014, the great-grandson of Maestro Argenta moved to Zurich to spend Christmas with his family. He ran into Bennet and he invited him to spend the night at his villa, in the exclusive area of Kusnacht. They drove there in Bennet’s Porsche.
We saved Katja then (and now) from having to verbalize how Alex died, a story taken from the blog in which she collected her impressions of the case: “Such was the barbarity of Alex’s last moments that even those who did not know him were shocked by the cruelty of his assailant. He was beaten with a meter-high chandelier, metal statues, repeatedly cut on the head with glass shards, and strangled. Alex was unable to defend himself during this ordeal. He suffered more than 50 injuries alone head. However, the killer didn’t stop there. After inflicting excruciating injuries on Alex, he knelt over him, pried open his mouth, and stuffed a candle inside. He then shoved it down Alex’s throat and into his mouth. esophagus. It was this final act of barbarism that killed my son. Alex suffocated to death in a pool of his own blood. After killing Alex, the killer went upstairs and took a shower.”
We then leave Katja picking avocados and mumbling what to do to reverse the verdict. She went to the Swiss Parliament, complained to politicians, caused a media stir. It worked. The Prosecutor’s Office appealed the sentence before the Federal Supreme Court and this ordered the review of the case that has now been carried out.
“He spoke at the trial and said, ‘I’m so sorry I took drugs, it was the biggest mistake of my life and I would do everything I could to make sure this didn’t happen.’ But at no point have the words come out: “I’m so sorry, Alex’s mother, Alex’s father, Alex’s brothers, I’m so sorry I killed Alex.”
Katja highlights the content of Bennet’s testimony because, although the court decided to impose 10 years for intentional homicide, it reduced the sentence by two, thus leaving it at eight. One less because of his regret, explains Katja. The other for his willingness to rehabilitate himself by being treated in a center.
“The judge asked him how he was, what he was doing, what plans he had… And there he explained that three times a week he goes to the University of Bern to listen to Art History classes. So he calmly goes to the University, comes back , works in the gardens of the clinic… And that his intention was to return to the world of art, to continue selling art. Like everything is the same for him. When they asked him about the crime he said he had no memory, “says Katja .
The court also reversed the previous verdict of acquittal for the rape of her former partner and sentenced her to four years for this crime. Twelve years in total that he will serve in the clinic if his lawyers do not appeal. “It’s been a horrible fight, because it’s like constantly reframing yourself, but a mother fights for her children whether they’re dead or alive.”
Ataúlfo Argenta (Castro Urdiales, 1913) was the first Spanish conductor who transcended borders and triumphed throughout Europe. A specialist in German romantic music and Spanish music, he created the National Radio Orchestra, the Madrid Chamber Orchestra and the National Orchestra of Spain. In addition, he was guest conductor of the National Orchestra of France. Death came when he was about to sign with the Orchester de la Suisse Romande to become the highest paid conductor in the world. He died on January 21, 1958, when he was 44 years old in the garage of his house in Los Molinos (Madrid). The conductor was inside his car, an Austin A-90, with a woman. He left the engine running to activate the heater, and the carbon monoxide produced by burning the gasoline killed him. His companion, however, survived.
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