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Son-in-law charged in murder of Monaco heiress

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The son-in-law of Monaco real estate heiress Helene Pastor, who was shot dead in May as she left a hospital in Nice, has been charged with murder for contracting to have her killed, allegedly so he could access her €20 billion fortune.

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Wojciech Janowski, 64, who served as Poland's honourary consul in Monaco, is accused of masterminding the killing of Pastor, 77, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin told a news conference on Friday.

Robin said Janowski had paid €200,000 ($272,000) in cash and €50,000 in presents to contract the killing.

Pastor, heiress to one of Monaco's richest families, died May 6 from multiple gunshot wounds to the abdomen, neck and face after being shot leaving a hospital in the French Riviera city of Nice. Her driver, Mohammed Darwich, 64, also died from injuries sustained in the attack.

Robin said Janowski's motive was to "lay his hands on the inheritance" of his partner Sylvia Pastor, Helene Pastor's eldest daughter. Sylvia Pastor was detained for questioning in the case last week but then released without charge.

The prosecutor said that Sylvia Pastor felt "betrayed" by her partner when she found out about Janowski's alleged role.

"She is in a very difficult psychological state," Robin said, adding that it was Janowski's personal trainer who had "organised" the killing.

Poland announced on Friday that Janowski had been stripped of his title of honourary consul "because of the loss of the irreproachable reputation that is essential for this role".

"In the present circumstances there can be no question of trust," the foreign ministry said in a statement, noting that the post of honourary consul "grants neither diplomatic immunity nor individual privilege".

Janowski has been in custody since Monday, when he was arrested along with 22 others.

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

In all, seven people have so far been charged over the killing and six of them remain in custody.

'Suspicious financial flows'

Robin said earlier that police had identified two suspects alleged to have been hitmen hired to kill Pastor.

The two men -- a 31-year-old and a 24-year-old originally from the Comoros islands and living in Marseille's rough northern districts -- had been identified as being "present at the location of the killing".

Robin said the 24-year-old man was the shooter, while the older one served as the lookout.

They were found thanks to surveillance cameras, mobile telephone records and traces of DNA discovered in a Nice hotel where they stayed on the day of the killing.

Police are also said to be investigating "suspicious financial flows" in Janowski's accounts.

Janowski had spent €8.4 million in less than a year, Brice said, and withdrew €250,000 from an offshore account in Dubai in nine transactions between April 22 and May 4, the last one being just two days before the killing.

According to investigators, Janowski's trainer Pascal Dauriac had no previous criminal record. He is believed to have kept €50,000 for himself and paid out the rest for the attack.

Helene 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 on the French Riviera slowly grew into a playground for the world's rich and famous, the family's fortunes skyrocketed.

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

Janowski heads a Monaco nanotechnology firm and an oil business, and is involved in numerous charities in the principality.

A graduate of the University of Cambridge, he settled in Monaco two decades ago after beginning a relationship with Sylvia. The two have a teenage daughter.

Sources in the close-knit community said they were shocked by the scandal.

"There is no way I can imagine he is behind this unbelievable story," said a source in the principality's diplomatic community, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Describing Janowski as "distinguished, always with a smile", the source said he had "enough wealth" not to need to think about obtaining an inheritance following Pastor's death.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

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