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French police search monastery for man suspected of killing wife and four children

Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes has been on the run since 2011.

A photo of Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes, with his daughter Anne (then 16), that was handed out by police in 2011
A photo of Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes, with his daughter Anne (then 16), that was handed out by police in 2011
Image: ABACA/ABACA/PA Images

POLICE SEARCHED A monastery in southern France today for a man suspected of killing his wife and four children. He has been on the run since 2011.

Witnesses had reported recently spotting a man resembling Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes at prayers at the religious site in Roquebrune-sur-Argens in the Var region.

It was in the medieval village, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of the Riviera resort of Cannes, that one of France’s most wanted men had last been spotted nearly seven years ago.

But a lengthy search of the monastery — home to a reclusive order of monks who take a vow of silence — failed to yield any trace of the 57-year-old suspect, sources close to the investigation told AFP.

Dupont de Ligonnes is the subject of an international arrest warrant in a case that transfixed France in 2011.

The businessman from an aristocratic family is suspected of murdering his wife and their children, aged 13 to 20, in the western city of Nantes in April that year before burying them under the terrace of their elegant townhouse.

They had been missing for three weeks before their bodies were discovered.

‘Methodical execution’

Each had been the victim of what French prosecutors described as a “methodical execution”, with two bullets fired from a silenced weapon at close range into their heads before they were rolled in lime and buried in a bag under the concrete.

Dupont de Ligonnes told the private Catholic high school where the children were studying that the family was emigrating to Australia.

He allegedly told friends he was a US secret agent and was being taken into a witness protection programme. After the killings, he went on the run.

On 15 April 2011, he was seen leaving a budget hotel in Roquebrune-sur-Argens. Since then the police have received hundreds of reported sightings of him, all of which turned out to be false leads.

© AFP 2018 

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