Frenchman, 80, freed after year in wife's laundry prison
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 a wife half his age and her alleged lover.
French paramilitary police rescued the unnamed man from his home in the village of Arrou, southwest 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.
"The victim suffered violence and ill-treatment," local gendarme commander Bruno Arviset told journalists. "The man ate twice a day, mostly pastries that were past their sell-by date."
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 her 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 as around 500,000 euros (650,000 dollars) had been taken from the man's bank accounts in recent months.
Deputy prosecutor Fanny Floquet said that when police arrived at the couple's home, the wife had initially said that her husband was abroad.
"The wife finally led them to a small room in the house but away from rooms used to live in and opened a locked door in front of the gendarmes," Floquet told journalists.
Prosecutors said that police were alerted by one of the woman's young children who has now been taken into care by social services.
The child "said there was an old man at home who was dirty, who stole food and who was abused because in particular he could make (the child's) mother angry," Floquet said.
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."
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