• France edition
 
Police continue to grill Brit over jogger murder
A camerman films at the scene where the body of the mother of three was found. Photo Pascal Guyot/AFP

Police continue to grill Brit over jogger murder

Published: 30 Jan 2013 08:46 GMT+01:00
Updated: 30 Jan 2013 08:46 GMT+01:00

The man, identified by family friends as Robert Plant, lived with his mother 300 metres (yards) from where the woman's partly clothed body was found on Thursday.

He remained under interrogation on Tuesday evening but had not been charged with murder. Police have until Wednesday evening to make a decision on whether
to do so.

Police were first directed towards Plant when a composite image – generated from several witness descriptions of a man who had been acting strangely in the area of the murder on January 23rd – matched his own facial characteristics, according to a report in regional daily La Depeche on Wednesday.

 "He is not denying everything but he is not admitting everything either," local police chief Gilles Soulier told a press conference.

Soulier said the detained man's DNA had been identified on items found at the murder scene, in scrubland on the outskirts of the popular tourist town of Nimes in southern France.

He had been placed in custody after proving "evasive" when asked to account for his movements around the time of the murder. Deputy prosecutor Stephane Bertrand earlier told reporters that officers had noticed marks on his hands that may have been caused by thorn scratches. The victim's body was discovered in a copse covered in bramble bushes.

The handcuffed suspect was taken to his home on Tuesday morning as police carried out a search of the property which Soulier said had led to the discovery of "quite a few objects that could be linked to the scene of the crime."

Despite these incriminating signs, one report on Wednesday claimed that Plant's mother had attempted to provide him an alibi for the day of the murder, when questioned by investigators.

A female neighbour who regularly saw the suspect out walking his dog told AFP she could not believe he could have carried out such a brutal crime. "He was a kind person, a very polite young man."

A former colleague of Robert Plant's late father told AFP: "They are a lovely, kind family. There is nothing in Robert's background to suggest he might have done something like this."

According to the colleague, the suspect's father Denis had been a telecoms executive who was half-French and had worked for much of his career in Paris before retiring to Nimes, where he died last year. The family was originally from Chatham in Kent.

The victim's body was found on Thursday evening after her children's school alerted her partner that she had failed to pick them up.

A box cutter-style knife and two blood-stained stones were found near the body and are thought to have been the weapons used in a murder that police sources described as a "slaughter."

There was evidence to suggest the victim had been sexually assaulted but not raped, police said.

The victim, Joudia Zimmat, was 33 and had three children, aged 3, 6 and 9. A housewife of Tunisian heritage, she regularly went running in the afternoon on tracks in Courbessac, a peaceful residential part of Nimes, which is famous for its amphitheatre and other Roman remains.

She was the third female jogger to have been killed in France since June 2011 but police have not yet established any link with the other murders.

AFP/The Local (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Top French court bolsters gay adoption
A top French court has bolstered gay parents adoption rights. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

Top French court bolsters gay adoption

France's top civil court on Monday ruled authorities must allow adoptions to occur for same sex parents, regardless of how the child was conceived. READ  

'France's economic woes aren't Germany's fault'
France's prime minister got a frosty welcome in Germany. Photo: AFP

'France's economic woes aren't Germany's fault'

As France's prime minister sat in the audience on Tuesday, the top lobbyist for German industry told a conference that Germany didn't mess up the French economy and isn't responsible for fixing it. READ  

French maternity wards prepare for busiest day
France’s maternity wards will be able to cope with the increase of expecting mothers, according to INED. Newborn baby photo: Shutterstock

French maternity wards prepare for busiest day

More French babies will be brought into the world this Tuesday than on any other day this year, according to a new study, with experts attributing the phenomenon to something special that happens around the new year. READ  

VIDEO
Flood-fleeing pheasants invade French town
6,000 birds were left homeless as a result of the floods. Pheasant photo: Shutterstock

Flood-fleeing pheasants invade French town

Just days after a French village was hit by heavy flooding its residents are battling another natural hazard after it was inundated by thousands of homeless pheasants and partridges. READ  

Air France strike hits ninth day, no end in sight
There is no end in sight to the Air France pilots' strike Photo: Aeroicarus/Flickr

Air France strike hits ninth day, no end in sight

As the Air France pilots' strike grinds into its ninth day, there is little hope that unions and management are close to a deal. Over half of the airline's flights remain grounded. READ  

Emotions high ahead of Gaultier's 'last' show
Designer Jean-Paul Gauthier, right, is to give his 'last' show this week. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Emotions high ahead of Gaultier's 'last' show

Expectation--and nostalgia--are mounting ahead of the 'last' show for legendary designer Jean-Paul Gaulthier before he retires from the ready-to-wear fashion business. READ  

French leader hits out at Blair about Iraq invasion
Tony Blair got a little criticism from a top French leader. Photo: AFP

French leader hits out at Blair about Iraq invasion

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was criticized by a top French official after saying Western powers shouldn't rule using ground troops against Isis Islamic extremists. READ  

Militants say they'll kill Frenchman in 24 hours
An image grab taken from a video which allegedly shows French tourist, Herve Pierre Gourdel (C), sitting between two armed jihadists. Photo: HO/Jund Al-Khilafa via YouTube/AFP

Militants say they'll kill Frenchman in 24 hours

An Algerian group linked to Isis on Monday threatened to kill a kidnapped Frenchman within 24 hours unless Paris halts air strikes on the Islamic militants in Iraq. France has vowed not to negotiate. READ  

France places Oscar hopes in 'Saint Laurent'
Gaspard Ulliel stars in "Saint Laurent" which France is putting forth for Oscar consideration. Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

France places Oscar hopes in 'Saint Laurent'

France has put forth a film that traces the dark side of the life led by fashion legend Yves Saint Laurent for the 2015 Oscars. READ  

Gallery
A look inside France's 'most notorious' prison
La Santé was open this weekend for guided tours. Photo: Joshua Melvin/The Local

A look inside France's 'most notorious' prison

The only prison in Paris, the notorious and historic La Santé was open this weekend for guided tours as it sits empty ahead of massive renovations. Here’s a look inside at a place that’s both fascinating and terrifying. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Paris installs new device to stop 'love lock' craze
National
Paris cabby dies in vicious high-heel attack
National
'Paris is a sexy city, its beauty is inspiring'
Culture
Depardieu: ‘I drink 14 bottles of booze a day’
National
Top French chefs want banned bird on menu
National
VIDEO: Making of French rugby hunk calendar
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
National
Ten great bars in Paris only locals know about
Society
France's top expat tribes: Which are you?
National
France to set flat-rate for Paris airport taxis
Politics
French separatists want Scots to say 'yes'
National
Anti-dog poo offensive launched in French town
National
Scammers attack Paris's top cop at tourist hotspot
National
French leader didn't pay his rent for three years
National
'WW2 bomb' kills camper on French island
Does France have a racism problem?
National
National
'Enough gloom, France is an amazing country'
Gallery
The top ten tourist traps to avoid in France
Politics
The juiciest bits from Trierweiler's tell-all book
Politics
Trierweiler tells all: 'Hollande wanted me back, at any price'
Education
'Sacre bleu!' Do the French really say that?
Politics
Manuel Valls has plenty in common with Tony Blair, but not background
International
Votes for expats: Plan to end UK's 15-year rule
Gallery
Ten dos and don'ts for keeping your French in-laws happy
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se