Police hone in on widow in English lord's killing

2nd January 2006, Comments 0 comments

MONACO, France, Jan 2 (AFP) - The widow of an English lord found dead on the French Riviera last year has been placed under investigation suspected of plotting his assassination, judicial officials said on Monday.

MONACO, France, Jan 2 (AFP) - The widow of an English lord found dead on the French Riviera last year has been placed under investigation suspected of plotting his assassination, judicial officials said on Monday.

The decomposing corpse of Anthony Ashley-Cooper, the 66-year-old Earl of Shaftesbury, was found in woodlands in April, five months after he went missing while visiting his estranged wife in the seaside resort town of Cannes.

French investigators now suspect his wife Djamila M'Barek and her brother, Mohammed M'Barek, 40, of plotting to kill the wealthy lord to prevent him from claiming back Riviera property he had given to his spouse, the officials said.

The wife, a 37-year-old Dutch-Tunisian former nightclub hostess who married Ashley-Cooper in 2002, was placed under investigation for murder -- one step short of indictment -- in late December.

Her Tunisian brother, who was extradited from Germany in May, has allegedly confessed to killing the lord in an argument and has been under investigation for murder since November.

Both suspects were initially being probed on a lesser count of manslaughter.

A source close to the case said that investigators suspect the brother may have been paid to carry out the killing, after finding traces of large sums of money in his bank account.

Educated at Eton and Oxford and a fluent French speaker, Ashley-Cooper inherited his title from his grandfather when he was 22 years old, along with the family seat at Wimborne, southwest England, and its 9,000-acre estate.

He divided his time between Britain and the French Riviera, where he was known to frequent nightspots.

At the time of his death, he had been living apart from Djamila M'Barek — who was his third wife — and had been seeing another nightclub waitress. The British press put his fortune at EUR 7 million.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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