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CRIME

Nanny goes on trial for grisly murder of parents in Paris

It started with a nannying job and ended with the parents chopped up in the bathtub: a Chinese couple go on trial in France on Tuesday for a double murder worthy of a film plot.

Nanny goes on trial for grisly murder of parents in Paris
Police in the Vincennes forest look for evidence after bodies found. Photo: AFP

The baffling case first came to light in June 2012 when two women jogging in the Vincennes forest east of Paris stumbled upon a human leg “cut off at the ankle”, according to a judicial source. Two days later, a dog dug up part of a human torso.

Efforts to find the rest of the bodies were in vain, and all investigators could determine was that the body parts belonged to an Asian woman and man.

The discovery of the remains in the popular park came at the same time as Luka Rocco Magnotta, a Canadian convicted of killing and dismembering a Chinese student, was reported to have fled to Paris.

In an unusual twist, a Chinese couple turned themselves in to police just over a week after the macabre discovery, and admitted killing another Chinese couple, Ying Wang and her husband Liangsi Xu.

The woman, Hui Zhang, said she had been the couple's nanny.

She told police how one night several weeks earlier, she had found their two-year-old son Lucas dead, asphyxiated in his sleep.

She and her partner Te Lu decided to offer the child's parents money to try to get them not to report the boy's death.


(Police forensics teams search for evidence in Vincennes. Photo: AFP) 

They invited the parents to their home, but said their plans quickly went awry faced with the fury of the grieving couple.

A fight broke out and the nanny said she grabbed a small axe and slashed at the couple, who eventually fell to the floor, dead.

Hui Zhang and Te Lu argue their actions were self-defence, saying the parents had attacked them with a butcher's knife. Te Lu was seriously injured in the fight.

Hui Zhang said she put the two bodies in the bathtub and cut them up with an electric saw, putting the washing machine on to hide any noise.

Then she and her partner got rid of the body parts, hidden in dustbin bags, and carefully cleaned the apartment.

The couple's confession led police to find further human remains in a dustbin bag in the forest, but not the body of the child, Lucas.

Hui Zhang said she threw his body, as well as the rest of the remains, into dustbins.

The couple – both aged 34 – arrived in France in 2004.    

Psychological experts say Te Hu had no criminal leanings and Hui Zhang was “extremely intelligent” and dominated her husband.

While Lucas's grandfather told police the nanny gave the child sleeping tablets, other parents have described her as attentive and the case relating to the boy's death was dismissed.

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POLITICS

French minister apologises for Champions League chaos

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Tuesday made a partial apology for chaos at last month's Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Paris, while insisting fake tickets and "delinquency" were mostly to blame.

French minister apologises for Champions League chaos

“Should things have been managed better at the Stade de France (stadium)? The answer is yes. Am I partly responsible? The answer is yes,” Darmanin told RTL radio.

“Of course, I readily apologise towards everyone who suffered from this bad management of the event,” he added.

After scenes of fans crowded into tight spaces and being tear-gassed by police caused outrage around Europe, Darmanin poured fuel on the fire by blaming supporters with fake tickets for the disruption.

UEFA events director Martin Kallen last week told French senators investigating the fiasco that the football body’s count of fake tickets was far short of the tens of thousands claimed by French authorities.

“We don’t believe it’s the number mentioned in France,” he said, adding that 2,600 fake tickets were identified at turnstiles — compared with the number of 30,000 to 40,000 people with fake tickets and without tickets suggested by Darmanin.

“It was a question of fake tickets… that created the difficulties we all know about” of large crowds of fans packed into underpasses or outside locked gates, Darmanin insisted Tuesday.

He added that “if there was something that went wrong at the Stade de France, it was the fight against delinquency”, saying he had already ordered a reorganisation of policing around the venue and that three major matches since had passed without incident.

While some supporters did report being victims of crime by gangs of youths before and after the match, there were also many complaints about police treatment of fans.

Disabled Liverpool fans last week told the Senate how officers sprayed tear gas at people in wheelchairs.

The English supporters have reacted with particular fury to Darmanin’s defence of the French police’s actions.

“People’s memories will forever be tarred by the lack of organisation and heavy-handed policing, and then of course the way authorities tried to deflect blame and scapegoat Liverpool fans for their incompetence,” Liverpool mayor Steve Rotheram told AFP earlier this month.

CCTV footage from around the stadium has also been deleted despite the Senate probe.

A government report published earlier this month said a “chain of failures” by French authorities has inflicted “severe damage” on the image of the country as it prepares to host the Olympic Games in 2024.

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