'Serial killer' watches asFrench police dig up victims

5th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

DONCHERY, France, July 3 (AFP) - A French avowed serial killer led police Saturday to the bodies of a 12-year-old girl and 22-year-old woman he admitted having killed and buried on the grounds of his former home 15 years earlier, prosecutors said.

DONCHERY, France, July 3 (AFP) - A French avowed serial killer led police Saturday to the bodies of a 12-year-old girl and 22-year-old woman he admitted having killed and buried on the grounds of his former home 15 years earlier, prosecutors said.

The two are among nine people, including eight women and girls, that Michel Fourniret has confessed to having killed between 1987 and 2001.

"We have found the second body, and thus 15 years of investigation have just come to their conclusion," prosecutor Yves Charpenel announced on the site of the chateau, in the Ardennes forest region bordering Belgium and France.

"It is with quite some emotion that I announce the discovery of (the remains of) Elisabeth Brichet," a 12-year-old Belgian girl whom Michel Fourniret has admitted to killing in 1989, said another prosecutor, Cedric Visart de Bocarme.

The body of Jeanne-Marie Desramault, who Fourniret said he also killed and interred in 1989, was identified earlier. Prosecutors said experts would conduct analyses to confirm the identifications.

In a startling case that has unfolded with dramatic speed, Fourniret, 62, confessed days ago to the nine killings, many of which took place in this wooded border region, and then offered to help police dig up the remains of two of his victims at the chateau he once owned.

He has been dubbed "the French Dutroux" by media because his confessions emerged just a week after Belgian's most-hated man Marc Dutroux received a life sentence for a horrific series of rapes and murders of teenage girls that traumatised Belgian society.

Fourniret, who has been held in Belgium since June 2003 for abduction of minors and sexual misconduct, confessed to the killings after his estranged wife accused him of committing at least 10 murders.

Both he and his wife, Monique Olivier, were brought to the Sautou chateau Saturday, where about 200 police equipped with ground-digging excavators hunted for the victims' bodies in areas indicated by Fourniret.

When the bodies were disinterred, Fourniret showed no emotion, prosecutor Charpenel told journalists on the site, near this small town in the French Ardennes mountains.

The prosecutor said expert testing would be done, possible DNA testing, to confirm the victims' identities, adding that the "clay earth has preserved the bodies".

Speaking of Brichart's body, Visart de Bocarme said: "The elements of visual identification are absolutely positive, there are traces of fabric which have made a formal identification possible."

Fourniret was convicted of rape and indecent assault on minors and sentenced to seven years in prison, and was released early in 1987. But his criminal record never reached police in Belgium.

Newspapers however said Belgian police had known about his sexual proclivities since 2001.

He was arrested again in Belgium last year after allegedly trying to abduct a 13-year-old Congolese girl who escaped and led police to him.

Fourniret has confessed to killing a ninth victim, a man, for money.

He also confessed to the murder of a woman in order to get the fortune with which he bought the 19th-century chateau.

The property stands on a 15-hectare (37-acre) estate surrounded by 600 hectares of woodland.

Investigators reportedly followed a tip by Fourniret's wife Olivier and found a cache of gold coins apparently belonging to Fourniret, and worth some EUR 25,000 (USD 30,000).

French police confirmed Belgian press reports quoting Fourniret as saying a fortune had been amassed by Jean-Pierre Hellegouarch, a man whom Fourniret had once met while in jail in France, and who had allegedly been linked to a left-wing terror group called Action Directe.

Fourniret was quoted as having said he had killed Hellegouarch's female companion in order to get at the money, and had used part of it to buy the chateau.

A Belgian prosecutor told a news conference earlier that Fourniret and Olivier, 55, had been charged with kidnapping and unlawfully imprisoning Elisabeth Brichet, one of the victims discovered Saturday.

The Fourniret revelations came barely a week after Dutroux received a life sentence for the abduction and rape of six girls in the mid-1990s, four of whom died.

The case comes on top of another major child abuse trial that shook France. On Friday a couple in the northern French town of Outreau were sentenced respectively to 20 and 15 years in prison on multiple counts of rape and renting out their own four sons for sex.

 

© AFP

Subject: French news

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