Frenchman, 80, freed after year in wife's laundry prison

31st July 2010, Comments 0 comments

An 80-year-old Frenchman was recovering in a state of shock in hospital on Saturday after being freed from a year locked in a laundry room by his wife of half his age and her alleged lover.

Police rescued the unnamed man from his home in the village of Arrou, southeast of Paris, on Wednesday, blinded, malnourished and physically abused by the ordeal at the hands of his own family.

A judicial source told AFP the man was conscious and lucid in hospital but did not yet want to speak to anyone.

His wife, 45, was jailed on Saturday pending trial after being charged with physical abuse, illegal detention and taking advantage of a vulnerable person, a judicial source said.

Her alleged lover and son have been released on bail after being charged with complicity with kidnapping and failing to report the abuse.

Investigators suspect the man's family had a financial motive for their alleged crime as around 500,000 euros (650,000 dollars) had been taken from the man's bank accounts in recent months.

The sleepy village's inhabitants said they knew the couple.

"The woman was very strange," a woman inhabitant, who asked not to be named, told AFP. "Some people knew that she had an odd relationship with an old man while at the same time living with a younger man."

The couple were married while living at their previous home in the nearby village of Droue three years ago, a local official told AFP, also asking not to be named.

"The mayor didn't want to marry them because he had doubts about the veracity of their union," the official said. "One of the mayor's deputies married them."

"At the time the victim was already living as a recluse in a room in the cellar of their house in Droue," the official said.

A former neighbour said that "the man never left his house. We saw him outside only once when he went to the town hall to get married, three or four years ago."

Regional authorities raised the alarm with prosecutors after the man failed to show signs of life, and the police were sent in to rescue him.

Police said that the last time the man had been seen was at a chemist's in Arrou in July, 2009.

The man's wife had in April of the same year made a charity appeal in the local press for money to help her partially paralysed daughter, who died of a brain tumour a few months ago.

© 2010 AFP

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