Wife 'witness' to Lord Shaftesbury murder

2nd March 2005, Comments 0 comments

NICE, France, March 1 (AFP) - A British lord's wife, arrested on suspicion of complicity in murder after her husband vanished on the French Riviera, was only a witness to a deadly fight between the aristocrat and her brother, her lawyer said Tuesday.

NICE, France, March 1 (AFP) - A British lord's wife, arrested on suspicion of complicity in murder after her husband vanished on the French Riviera, was only a witness to a deadly fight between the aristocrat and her brother, her lawyer said Tuesday.

"My client was nothing but a witness to the events and is not at all implicated," attorney Franck de Vita told AFP shortly after meeting with Djamila M'Barek in a prison hospital wing in the Riviera city of Nice.

"Djamila had no interest in seeing her husband dead, insofar as they had come to an agreement on the divorce proceedings," De Vita said.

M'Barek, a 43-year-old Dutch-Tunisian former nightclub hostess, is the estranged third wife of 66-year-old Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 10th Earl of Shaftesbury who went missing four months ago.

She was arrested last Friday and her 40-year-old brother Mohammed was taken into custody in Germany the following day. He was expected to be extradited to France.

Both are suspected of murdering Lord Shaftesbury who disappeared in Cannes on November 6, a day after he had seen his spouse, whom he was in the process of divorcing.

Djamila M'Barek - whom Lord Shaftesbury married in 2002 after meeting her in Versailles near Paris - told investigators she had seen her husband and brother fight in their Cannes apartment.

But she has not given any information that could enable police to find the lord's body, officials said.

Sources close to the investigation also said that Mohammed M'Barek had not given his consent to extradition from Germany, which could hold up the investigation for several weeks due to appeals procedures.

Detectives described as pure speculation all possible motives for the murder, including one that the sister and brother had hatched a plot in revenge for Shaftesbury's relationship with a younger nightclub hostess.

The earl divided his time between Britain and the French Riviera where he was known to frequent nightspots. He had been expected to return to Britain on November 10.

Educated at Eton and Oxford and a fluent French speaker, he 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 (3,600-hectare) estate.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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