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France

Son-in-law retracts confession in Monaco heiress killing

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-07-02

The son-in-law of a Monaco heiress gunned down in a Mafia-style killing has retracted his confession to ordering the shooting, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Appearing before a bail judge, Wojciech Janowski “retracted his statements made while in custody” and “denies having ordered” the killing in May of 77-year-old Hélène Pastor, lawyer Erick Campana said.

Prosecutors said last week that Janowski, a 64-year-old who had served as Poland’s honorary consul in Monaco, confessed to masterminding the killing of his partner Sylvia’s billionaire mother.

But Campana said Janowski had “misunderstood the meanings of the terms used by police and although he speaks French he does not understand all the nuances of our language.”

Crime and arrest

Pastor was shot multiple times with a sawn-off shotgun as she was leaving a hospital in the French Riviera city of Nice. Her driver, Mohammed Darwich, 64, also died from injuries sustained in the May 6 attack.

Janowski was arrested early last week, alongside 22 others, by police investigating the shooting.

Earlier this week he admitted "involvement" in the murder.

Janowski was charged after prosecutors said he confessed to the contract killing, for which he allegedly spent some 250,000 euros ($340,000) to hire two contract killers, both of whom have been apprehended and charged.

Campana said he would demand an appeal court nullify Janowski’s detention—and statements made while in custody—because he did not have access to a lawyer or interpreter during his 96 hours in custody. The judge nonetheless confirmed that Janowski must remain in custody pending trial.

Family affair

Janowski’s 53-year-old wife Sylvia, Pastor’s eldest daughter, was also detained for questioning but released on Thursday without charge.

The couple stood to inherit Pastor’s estimated €20 billion fortune. Hélène Pastor had inherited a huge real estate and construction business set up by her Italian grandfather Jean-Baptiste Pastor, a stone mason who moved to Monaco in 1880.

As the sleepy principality in the French Riviera slowly grew into a playground for the world's rich and famous, the family's fortunes skyrocketed.

The real jackpot came in 1966 when Prince Rainier, whose fairytale wedding to Hollywood actress Grace Kelly helped catapult Monaco to international fame, gave permission to Hélène Pastor's father Gildo to build high-rise buildings along the seafront.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-07-02

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