French double murderer captured after 20 years on the run

A French fugitive convicted of a double murder was arrested after 20 years on the run when a storm damaged his yacht in waters off Indonesia's Sulawesi island, police said on Thursday.

French double murderer captured after 20 years on the run
Illustration photo: AFP

Thierry Ascione, 62, and another French national made an emergency landing in the Talaud islands between the Philippines and Indonesia on October 3rd to seek help for repairing the boat.

Authorities nabbed them for violating immigration rules, said local police chief Lendi Hutabarat.

“The navigation system (on the yacht) was damaged due to strong waves,” Hutabarat told AFP.

Ascione was hiding in the boat when the police questioned and arrested his compatriot, who was found wandering around the island trying to buy a SIM card.

The police later raided the boat and found Ascione without a passport.

The two were handed over to immigration authorities. They are currently in Manado, North Sulawesi.

Ascione told officials that his passport was stolen while in transit in the Philippines, said Novly TN Momongan, the local immigration office chief from the neighbouring Sangihe islands.

Paris has formally requested Ascione’s extradition to Jakarta but the legal process might take months since the two countries have no extradition treaty, according to a source close to the case.

Ascione was found guilty of the murder in 1991 of two French nationals who owned a restaurant in Guatemala.

He was arrested in 1995 in Roissy airport in Paris and remained in custody until 2000. He fled six months before his trial began.

A court in Paris tried him in absentia and sentenced him to life in prison in 2001.

Ascione had been on the run since, in various countries including the Philippines, until his arrest in Indonesia.

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French police fire on fleeing suspects, killing one

French police opened fire on a vehicle whose driver attempted to flee when they approached, killing a passenger, prosecutors said on Friday.

French police fire on fleeing suspects, killing one

The incident follows a series of fatal shootings by officers that has revived debate over their use of force.

A patrol of four officers spotted the car, which had been reported stolen, in a parking lot in Venissieux, a suburb of the southeastern city of Lyon, just after midnight.

As they were about to check the occupants’ identity, the driver suddenly tried to flee, hitting an officer who was thrown onto the vehicle’s bonnet

He and another officer then fired several shots, prosecutors said, and when the car stopped moving, the patrol found two occupants with serious injuries.

The passenger died at the scene and the driver was hospitalised, and a police source said doctors declared him brain-dead.

The officers who opened fire were being questioned by the police’s internal investigations agency, a routine practice when officers use their weapons in the course of duty.

Police violence has been in the spotlight after several fatal shootings by officers, which critics see as a systemic use of excessive force and heavy-handed tactics by French security forces.

This month, police officers shot and killed a knife-wielding man, later identified as homeless, at the Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris.

In June, police shot a woman dead in a car in northern Paris after the vehicle failed to stop when summoned by officers and then allegedly drove towards them at speed.

In April, prosecutors charged a 24-year-old officer with involuntary manslaughter after he used his assault rifle to shoot at a car that sought to escape a patrol in Paris, killing the driver and injuring a passenger.

And last March, angry residents clashed with police during several tense nights in the suburbs north of Paris to protest a fatal shooting by an officer against a van that had been reported stolen.

Under French law, the only justification for an officer using a weapon is when his or her life is in danger.

Particularly contested are patrols carrying assault rifles, which authorities began issuing after mass killings by jihadists in Paris on November 13th, 2015, and a subsequent wave of deadly Islamist attacks.

The government has vowed to take action to restore confidence in security forces, and the divisive issues of police violence and crime were brought to the fore in France’s presidential election this year.

Police unions say officers often face hostility and attacks, and are faced with the difficult task of trying to maintain order in impoverished high-rise housing estates that in some cases are centres of drug dealing and other criminality.