Polish man confesses rape, murder of 9yr-old French girl
A Polish man has confessed to raping and killing a nine-year-old girl after brazenly snatching her from a French playground within view of her mother, prosecutors said Thursday.
The country was left reeling from the crime in the northern city of Calais, where flags flew at half mast, as grisly details emerged about how the girl, Chloe, was kidnapped, raped and strangled in the space of an hour and a half.
The Pole, who has a long criminal history, confessed to the crime after being arrested on Wednesday night near the woods where the girl's naked, lifeless body was found.
Chloe was playing with a friend on Wednesday afternoon when she approached the man, who had stopped his car to drink a beer, and sprayed him with a water pistol, prosecutor Jean-Pierre Valensi said at a press conference on Thursday.
The suspect told investigators he grabbed the child and forced her into the red car, driving her to the nearby woods where he sexually assaulted and killed her.
Chloe's mother, who was present, burst into panicked screams as the man, described by witnesses as bald and wearing sunglasses, shoved her daughter into his car.
Police were alerted to the kidnapping at 3:30 pm and search teams were dispatched, one of which made the grisly discovery of the murdered child at 5pm.
Forensic investigators reported evidence of "strangulation and sexual violence", said Valensi.
Nearby, police found the red vehicle with Polish number plates, and the driver -- heavily under the influence of alcohol -- was arrested not far from the scene shortly thereafter.
The suspect "immediately admitted his involvement in the child's death," said Valensi.
- Questions over criminal past -
The man, who had served time in a French prison for robbery, was handed over to Polish authorities in March last year after a Europe-wide arrest warrant was issued in his name.
Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart said Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve had assured her he would question Warsaw on the man's path since he was handed over.
Valensi said that the man had arrived back in France on Wednesday morning and was planning to head to England where his sister lived.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called for light to be shed on the suspect's history, saying the family and community were "deeply shocked" by the murder.
"It is up to the legal system now to carry out the investigation and what we owe to the family is the whole truth," he said.
The French city of Calais was plunged into mourning after the killing of the girl described as "cheerful and full of life".
Residents planned a solemn march in memory of Chloe later Thursday.
"It's horrific," a shocked mother of two told AFP outside Chloe's school on Thursday morning, where a counselling unit has been set up.
"My son knew her, he didn't sleep last night, he knows he will never see her again. I can't even imagine what the parents are going through," she said.
© 2015 AFP