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Son-in-law admits involvement in murder of Monaco heiress

AFP | Last Updated: Friday, June 27, 2014 - 16:58

Warsaw: The son-in-law of an elderly Monaco heiress gunned down in a Mafia-style hit has admitted to a role in her murder, in the latest twist to a case that has shaken the principality`s super-rich.

Wojciech Janowski, a 64-year-old who served as Poland`s honorary consul in Monaco, "recognised his involvement" in last month`s killing of 77-year-old Helene Pastor while in detention this week, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin told AFP on Friday.

He said more details would be revealed at a press conference in Marseille at 1500 GMT.

Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski announced on Twitter Friday that Janowski`s honorary title had been withdrawn "because of the loss of his good reputation and trustworthiness".

Janowski has been in custody since Monday, when he was arrested along with 22 others by police investigating the shooting of Pastor 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`s 53-year-old partner Sylvia, Pastor`s eldest daughter, was also detained for questioning but released on Thursday without charge.

Ten others were released on Wednesday. Prosecutors had until the end of the day Friday to charge those still being held or release them.

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".

They were found thanks to surveillance cameras, mobile telephone records and traces of DNA found 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, who did not enjoy diplomatic immunity, heads a Monaco nanotechnology firm and is involved in numerous charities in the principality.

He was seen on Friday morning leaving police headquarters in Nice for Marseille, where he was due to be brought before a judge to be charged.

Janowski`s personal trainer, who was also detained, was seen separately leaving the police station for Marseille.

Prosecutors have refused to confirm press reports that the trainer acted as a go-between for Janowski with the alleged killers.

Sources close to the case have said it involved a contract killing with a payment in the range of 140,000 euros ($190,000).

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 fortune 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 Helene Pastor`s father Gildo to build high-rise buildings along the seafront.

First Published: Friday, June 27, 2014 - 16:58

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