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CRIME

Brit faces third French trial over wife’s death

A Briton jailed for killing his wife and dumping her body in a lake in France insisted he was innocent on Monday as his third trial in the case opened.

“I’m not in any way responsible for the death of my wife. I’m totally innocent. I had no reason to kill my wife,” Robert Lund, 59, told the court at the start of the trial in the southern French town of Montauban.

Lund was sentenced to 12 years in jail in 2007 for the involuntary homicide of his wife Evelyn, whose body was found in a lake in 2002, two years after she disappeared from their home in southwestern France.

An appeals court upheld the verdict in 2009 but his third trial comes after he appealed on a point of legal procedure.

Lund reported his 52-year-old spouse as missing in 2000, on New Year’s Day, telling investigators he believed she had an accident after drinking heavily and setting off to visit friends.

Despite an extensive search, Evelyn’s remains were not found until nearly two years after her disappearance.

Her body was found inside her car in Lake Bancalie, between the Lund family home in the village of Rayssac and that of the friends she was alleged to be visiting.

The Lunds had moved to the region, home to a large British expatriate community, in 1997.

Evelyn’s three daughters brought the case against Lund, who has always protested his innocence.

Lund’s lawyer, Apollinaire Legros-Gimbert, said there were enough uncertainties in the case, including over the cause of Evelyn’s death, to raise hopes of an acquittal.

Legros-Gimbert admitted that his client was taking a risk with the new trial as he could be found guilty on the more serious charge of murder and face even longer in prison.

He said the fact Lund was willing to take that risk was evidence of his innoncence.

But a lawyer for Evelyn’s family, Henri Renier, said Lund was seeking an acquittal in order to inherit her estate and proceeds from her life insurance, which were blocked when he was convicted.

By seeking a new trial Lund has subjected the family to “a final ordeal,” Renier said.

CRIME

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.

Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.

Elsewhere in the capital, the defence was making its final arguments in the trial of the surviving suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.

‘Acted like vultures’ 

British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13th, 2015.

A white van with concealed number-plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019 in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.

Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since World War II, as Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.

On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.

During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation”, adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.

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