PARIS (Reuters) - The son-in-law of a wealthy Monaco heiress shot dead last month was placed under investigation by a French judge on suspicion of having ordered the killing in an apparent attempt to acquire an inheritance, a prosecutor said on Friday.
Helene Pastor, 77, died late last month from wounds sustained during a May 6 ambush in the French Riviera city of Nice, near Monaco, when a gunman fired through the windows of her car. Her chauffeur also died four days after the attack.
After the arrest of 23 people in the French cities of Marseille, Nice and Rennes, prosecutors focused on financial transactions made by Wojciech Janowski, common-law husband of Pastor’s daughter, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said.
Janowski, a businessman and previously Poland’s honorary consul in Monaco, was brought before a Marseille judge on Friday and placed under formal investigation on suspicion that he ordered the killing, Robin told a news conference on Friday.
“His true motive could be, according to us, that he wanted to put his hands on the inheritance” of his wife, Sylvia Pastor, Robin told reporters.
Sylvia Pastor, who was arrested earlier in the week and later freed, was “completely cleared” in the matter, Robin said.
Also placed under formal investigation were six other people, including the suspected gunman, a look-out for the gunman and the family’s sports coach, Pascal Dauriac.
Robin described Dauriac as “the real organiser” of the crime and added: “He admitted to everything and implicated Janowski.”
“According to Mr. Dauriac ..., Janowski had been planning to assassinate Mrs Pastor for a long time, because he felt rejected by the rest of the family ... and by Helene Pastor in particular,” Robin said.
The status of the relationship between Janowski and Sylvia Pastor was unclear. Robin said they had been together for eight years, and had one child, a daughter.
According to Robin, Dauriac told police he had received 140,000 euros (112,178 pounds) from Janowski to pay the gunman and the look-out and that he kept 50,000 euros for himself.
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski removed Janowski on Friday from the honorary consul post in Monaco because of what a ministry spokesman said was a “connection with a breach of good reputation and a loss of confidence”.
Being placed under formal investigation by a magistrate often, but not always, leads to trial. Under French law, this step means there exists “serious or consistent evidence” pointing to probable implication of a suspect in a crime.
The Pastor family, which made its money in real estate, is highly influential in the wealthy principality of Monaco.
Writing by Alexandria Sage, Editing by Mark Heinrich