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01/07/2008

Du Plantier's Body Exhumed In France

The body of the French filmmaker has been exhumed from a south central French cemetery.
Ms Toscan du Plantier was found beaten to death in Schull in west Cork over 11 years ago.
She was a glamorous, well-connected film producer from France who was visiting her remote holiday home near the West Cork village of Schull.
Her late husband was a well-known film director and a friend of President Chirac.
The new exhumation was carried out with the support of the dead woman's family and was ordered by a French judge who is investigating the case.
Judge Patrick Gachon, who is the latest investigating magistrate to tackle the unsolved case, told the 39 year-old's family that her body would be transferred 600km to Paris where a detailed autopsy would be performed, probably lasting a week.
The exhumation in the village of Conbret began at 5.30am this morning and took just over 90 minutes.
The reasons for the exhumation and new autopsy have not been revealed and Judge Gachon has told reporters he is precluded from discussing the exhumation.
However, it is thought Judge Gachon hopes new DNA techniques will glean some vital new evidence.
The autopsy in effect re-opens one of the most controversial of cross-frontier "cold cases" in recent European judicial history.
Despite a long and elaborate investigation, including interviews with more than 1,000 people, Irish police were unable to solve the apparently motiveless murder of the documentary film-maker in the grounds of her isolated holiday cottage near Schull in Co Cork.
Mme Toscan du Plantier's body, dressed in pyjamas, was found near the garden fence of the low, white-washed house on the popular holiday peninsula on 23 December 1996.
Her skull had been smashed, apparently by an axe, and then by a heavy lump of concrete.
Her hands and finger-nails still held traces of her attacker's skin and hair. She had been neither robbed nor sexually assaulted.
She was married to a French film executive, Daniel Toscan du Plantier, who died in 2003. Her French family and friends have fought to keep the investigation alive, persuading well-known figures in French cinema and public life to join a "Sophie Toscan du Plantier Truth Association".
President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to raise the case with the Irish government when he visits Dublin next week on European Union business.
(DW)
VMI.TV Ltd

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