30 years on, lawyer convicted for murder

12th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

12 October 2007, AIX EN PROVENCE (AFP) - One of France's longest-running murder cases came to a dramatic close Thursday when a 69 year-old lawyer was convicted of killing the heiress to a Riviera casino fortune exactly 30 years ago.

12 October 2007

AIX EN PROVENCE (AFP) - One of France's longest-running murder cases came to a dramatic close Thursday when a 69 year-old lawyer was convicted of killing the heiress to a Riviera casino fortune exactly 30 years ago.

An appeals court in the southern town of Aix-en-Provence jailed Jean-Maurice Agnelet for 20 years for the premeditated murder of Agnes Le Roux, 10 months after a lower court had acquitted him of the same charge for lack of evidence.

The verdict was a signal victory for Le Roux's 85 year-old mother Renee who led the campaign for three decades to have Agnelet brought to justice. She and her other children burst into tears and hugged each other when the court's decision was read out.

"Sadly, this still won't bring back my daughter. At my age, it is hard," said Renee Le Roux.

Agnelet, who has always denied the murder, remained impassive. His lawyers said they would take the case to the Cour de Cassation, the high court of appeal.

The body of the 29 year-old Agnes Le Roux was never found after she disappeared in a white Range Rover car in October 1977.

In the months before her disappearance she had been at the centre of a torrid intrigue involving a hostile take-over bid on her mother's prestigious Palais de la Mediterranean casino in Nice.

Le Roux had been seduced by Agnelet, who was renowned for his dissolute lifestyle, and it was he who persuaded her to vote against her mother at a board meeting in June 1977 and allow the casino to be sold to rival owner Dominique Fratoni.

She was paid three million francs by Fratoni, which she then transferred into a joint account also in Agnelet's name.

Though he was a prime suspect after the disappearance, Agnelet produced a seemingly unimpeachable alibi in the person of another mistress, who swore to police that she had been with him in Switzerland at the time.

However in 1999 Francoise Lausseure -- who had since married and divorced Agnelet -- admitted to Renee Le Roux that she had lied. With the alibi gone the case was re-opened.

During the court case, the prosecution described Agnelet as a malevolent and money-obsessed personality whose motive in killing Le Roux was to lay hands on the three million francs.

"This man seduced an idealistic and vulnerable young woman for the sole purpose of pursuing his own selfish interests. But she became an emotional leech which he had to destroy," said state attorney Pierre Cortes.

AFP

Subject: French news

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