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CRIME

Australian charged with French woman’s murder

An Australian man has been charged with the brutal rape and murder of a young French exchange student, whose naked body was found in a park near her apartment in Brisbane.

Australian charged with French woman's murder
Exchange student Sophie Collmbet, who was raped and murdered in Brisbane. Photo: Facebook

A young Australian man appeared in a Brisbane court on Wednesday charged with the rape and murder of 21-year-old French student Sophie Collombet, reports said.

Collombet's naked body was found in a rotunda at a park near her apartment in South Brisbane on March 28. Police said the business student had been beaten to death.

"A 25-year-old man has been charged with one count each of murder, rape, deprivation of liberty and robbery," Queensland Police said in a statement.

The ABC said the man, who cannot be named, appeared briefly at Brisbane Magistrates Court after being picked up by police in Coffs Harbour in neighbouring New South Wales state.

He was remanded in custody and is due to face court again in May.

Collombet is the fourth foreign student to be brutally murdered in the Australian city of Brisbane in almost as many months.

The exchange student's killing follows the stabbing to death of Singaporean Meena Narayanan in March.

Just months before, South Korean student Eunji Ban, 23, was found battered to death in a Brisbane park and weeks later the body of another South Korean, 28-year-old Min Tae Kim, was discovered in a shallow grave in a backyard.

There is no suggestion the deaths are linked and police have said they believe the victims were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Officials have insisted that visitors from overseas have nothing to fear with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, on a visit to Seoul on Tuesday, saying Australia was by international standards "very, very safe".

"The last thing we want is visitors to our country feeling unsafe," he said.

Flowers and tributes have been left at the park where Collombet's body was found.

The accused's mother, who was reportedly in court in support of her son when he made his appearance, has also visited the park and offered her sympathy to Collombet's family.

"We're all so sorry and sad and it shouldn't happen to anybody. A beautiful girl like Sophie, she's just gorgeous – it's just wrong," she said.

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CRIME

Italian killer with mafia links arrested in France after 16 years on the run

A convicted murderer linked to one of Italy's most powerful mafia organisations was arrested on Thursday in central France, Interpol said.

Italian killer with mafia links arrested in France after 16 years on the run

Edgardo Greco, 63, is suspected of belonging to the notorious ‘Ndrangheta, a powerful mafia organisation in Calabria, southern Italy.

He is wanted in Italy to serve a life sentence for the murders of Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo, and accused of the attempted murder of Emiliano Mosciaro “as part of a mafia war between the Pino Sena and Perna Pranno gangs that marked the early 1990s”, Interpol said.

The Bartolomeo brothers were beaten to death with iron bars in a fish warehouse, Italian police said.

Greco’s arrest in central France came with help for Italy and France from the “Cooperation against ‘Ndrangheta Project” (I-CAN) run by Interpol, which facilitates police cooperation between its 195 member states.

READ ALSO: Italian police seize €250 million and arrest 56 in latest mafia blitz

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, quoted in Interpol’s statement, said the arrests demonstrated his country’s commitment to “fighting all forms of organised crime and locating dangerous fugitives”.

The ‘Ndrangheta is considered Italy’s most extensive and powerful mafia group, Interpol said, operating worldwide and with strong ties to the trade in cocaine bound for Europe from South America

I-CAN’s job is help raise awareness of ‘Ndrangheta and their modus operandi, sharing police information to dismantle their networks and operations, the agency said.

The arrest of Greco, who worked in the evenings in a pizza restaurant under an assumed named according to Italian media, came a week after Italian police said it had dismantled a ‘Ndrangheta mafia ring dominating a large area of southern Calabria and seized assets exceeding 250 million euros.

Fifty-six people, many already in prison, were put under criminal investigation for a series of crimes including mafia-related conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, bribery and possession of weapons, police and prosecutors said.

The arrest of Greco comes just over two weeks after Italian police arrested one of the most notorious bosses of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra mafia, Matteo Messina Denaro, who had been on the run for 30 years.

The 60-year-old was arrested after visiting a health clinic where he was being treated in the Sicilian capital Palermo

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