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LYON

Brit admits to slaying his children in France

A 48-year-old divorced Briton locked in a bitter custody battle confessed on Sunday that he had killed his two young children by slitting their throats near the eastern French city of Lyon.

Brit admits to slaying his children in France
Picture taken on May 19th 2013 in Saint-Priest shows the apartment building where the bodies of two children were discovered with their throats cut at their father's place. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP

The bodies of a five-year-old girl and a ten-year-old boy were discovered on Saturday afternoon in the man's apartment in Saint-Priest, a south-eastern suburb of Lyon.

The unemployed father confessed to the gruesome crime "but did not go into details of the motive", prosecutors said.

The tragedy was "linked to a bitter separation" and "the state of his visitation rights which he considered insufficient", another judicial source told AFP.

"In 2010, there was an incident of violence with his spouse which led to restrictions on his visitation rights," the source said.

He was arrested on Saturday evening in Lyon and placed in custody. A judicial official said a knife which is thought to have been the murder weapon had been found.

The man had visitation rights but only in the presence of another person, the official said, adding that this was the first time he had brought the children home to his apartment on the second floor of a four-storey building without a third party being present.

He remained in custody late on Sunday and was to be presented to a prosecutor on Monday when he was expected to be charged.

Police were also questioning his ex-wife, notably to learn more about "the legal framework of the children's visits to their father".

"We understand that a British national has been arrested in France," a Foreign Office spokesman told AFP. "We are in contact with the French authorities and we await the outcome of their investigation."

Several witnesses said the man fled on roller skates after his former wife encountered him on the stairwell of the building and saw him with bloodstained clothes. She immediately alerted the police.

A neighbour said the mother was soon joined by relatives, including her brother-in-law and the children's grandparents, and was lucid although in shock.

A psychiatrist from the emergency services was immediately dispatched to give her counselling.

"They were devastated but relatively composed," the neighbour said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"She said: 'He has killed them'. I tried to comfort her saying we didn't know as yet although I knew at the bottom of my heart that they were dead."

Ahmed Benguedda, another neighbour, told AFP the couple had divorced "two or three years ago" and that the man had drinking problems and was a wife beater.

After the divorce the wife, who worked as an assistant accountant, moved out of the apartment they had jointly bought and was living in the Isere region of eastern France.

But the children were "well-balanced", said Benguedda, whose seven-year-old daughter often played with them.

"All the people in this building are in a state of shock," Benguedda said.

More neighbours were being questioned by the police on Sunday.

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LYON

‘1,600 buildings destroyed?’ What could happen if the Swiss canton of Valais is hit by a big earthquake?

Nearly 800 dead, 1,600 buildings destroyed, and 119,000 people become homeless. This is the "worst-case" result of a big earthquake hitting the Swiss canton of Valais according to natural disaster experts.

'1,600 buildings destroyed?' What could happen if the Swiss canton of Valais is hit by a big earthquake?
The Swiss city of Sion in the canton of Valais. Photo: Depositphotos

More than 200 tremors have shaken the canton in early November, and the authorities predict a more sizeable earthquake will hit the area at some point in the coming years or decades.

In a worst case scenario natural disaster experts in Valais believe a 6.5 magnitude earthquake striking between the cities of Sion and Sierre could leave 800 dead, 1,600 buildings destroyed and 119,000 people homeless, according to Thursday’s “Le Nouvelliste” newspaper 

And if this extreme scenario can statistically occur every 475 years, an earthquake of lower magnitude, around 6 on the Richter scale, is likely to occur in Valais in the coming decades, experts say.

According to “Le Nouvelliste”, the canton’s “weak point” is its housing.

Only 10 to 20 percent of the buildings meet the seismic standards established in 2004. But the vast majority were built before this date.

“That does not mean that these buildings will collapse at the slightest jolt, but only that we have doubts about their resistance”, an expert told Le Nouvelliste.

According to the Cantonal Concept Preparation and Response in the Event of an Earthquake (COCPITT), it would take “no less than three generations” for all of Valais structures to be able to withstand a major earthquake.

Meanwhile, the authorities have prioritized public buildings, especially those with high concentrations of people and those serving vital functions, such as hospitals.

While these cantonal buildings of high importance have all been “treated and analysed”, this is not the case for buildings which the canton is renting and whose upgrades are not within its competence, for instance schools.

And the same goes for privately-owned buildings.

“Communes and private individuals are responsible for their constructions. But the law does not require that old buildings be brought up to standard, except in case of renovation”, the cantonal architect Philippe Venetz told Le Nouvelliste.


 

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