Prosecutor Catherine Denis said on Friday she was pursuing a criminal line of inquiry into the circumstances of the death of a 24-year-old Chinese graduate student earlier this week.
The woman was found dead late on Tuesday night on the ground outside her apartment block in the city of Caen in Normandy, and investigators had thought the knife wounds discovered on her body may have been self-inflicted.
However, the results of Thursday’s autopsy “do not add weight to the hypothesis of suicide,” Denis said on Friday.
Foul play has therefore been made the primary line of inquiry, she added.
In all, four knife wounds were found on the body of the young woman, who was a Masters 1 student at the Normandy school of management at the time of her death, according to French daily Le Figaro.
The location of the victim’s body (at the foot of her apartment building), combined with the fact that her own window was open when her body was discovered, has led investigators to consider that she may have either fallen, jumped or been pushed out her window.
While the exact circumstances of the student’s death, and any motivation for a possible attack, remain unknown, concerns have been raised in recent months over the safety of Chinese nationals in France.
During the summer, The Local reported how China’s foreign ministry stepped in to demand that French authorities to more to protect Chinese citizens, after six students were beaten up and had bottles thrown at them in an apparently racially-motivated attack in Bordeaux.
In March, a group of 23 Chinese tourists were assaulted and mugged near Paris, almost immediately after arriving in the country.
“Their passports, plane tickets and cash were stolen and the group leader sustained an injury to the face," said a spokesman from China’s National Tourism Association at the time.