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CRIME

Briton accused of murdering wife in south west France says her death ‘broke his heart’

A British man accused of killing his wife by running her over with his car told a court in southwest France that her death had ‘broken his heart’.

General view of the Palais de Justice, Cahors
The Palais de Justice, Cahors. Photo: Google Street View

David Turtle, 67, denied aggravated manslaughter in connection with the death of his wife Stephanie, in 2017, when he appeared for the first day of trial in court in Cahors, Lot.

“I loved my wife,” he told the court. “I love her even more now than before, because my heart is broken after what happened.”

Turtle, a former car salesman and town councillor in southwest England, rejected the prosecution’s argument that he deliberately drove over her following a late-night argument at their home in Prayssac, Lot, saying he was unaware that she was in front of the car when he pulled away.

The court heard that the row had started over the choice of a TV programme earlier in the evening, after which Mrs Turtle had gone to bed. When she came back downstairs later, Turtle said he decided to go for a drive rather than restart the argument.

He said that he heard her following as he left the house but could not see her, so moved the car forwards a few metres before stopping again. It was then, he said, that he found her lying under the vehicle.

Forensic reports revealed that Mrs Turtle had suffered multiple rib fractures, clavicular and scapular fractures, pulmonary lesions, abdominal trauma, and a fracture of the pelvis.

Turtle explained how he had met the recently divorced woman who would become his wife on a singles’ holiday in Turkey, when he was 40 years old. They moved to France, in 2016, to renovate a property they had bought, intending to turn it into a bed and breakfast.

He said he had been sad to give up his council role to move to France, but said that he “always put his wife first”.

“Stephanie was the love of my life, it took 40 years to find her,” he said.

A clinical psychologist told the court that the couple had a “close relationship”.

The trial, set for three days, continues. If found guilty, Turtle could face life imprisonment.

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CRIME

Top French central banker in corruption probe

French prosecutors said Friday that they had opened a corruption investigation into top central banker Sylvie Goulard, who simultaneously stepped down from the Bank of France.

Top French central banker in corruption probe

The probe covers suspicions of accepting bribes, influence peddling, illegal conflicts of interest and breach of trust, the national financial prosecutor’s office said, confirming a report from daily Liberation.

Graft-fighting group Anticor triggered the probe by filing a criminal report in June, with the investigation launched in September.

In a statement, the Bank of France said Goulard – a former MEP and briefly defence minister under President Emmanuel Macron in 2017 – would be leaving her post as one of the institution’s deputy governors on December 5.

Returning to the foreign ministry?

She wished to “return to the foreign ministry” where she started her civil service career, the bank said.

A source close to Goulard told AFP that her departure had “nothing to do with the investigation”.

“Neither Sylvie Goulard nor her lawyer were informed that the investigation had been reopened,” the source said.

A previous probe in 2019 was closed the following year after no crime was found, case files seen by AFP showed.

Anticor questioned in its complaint the work Goulard performed for the California-based Berggruen Institute think-tank.

She has acknowledged accepting 10,000 euros ($10,530 at current rates) per month working as a “special adviser” to the Council for the Future of Europe, an offshoot of Berggruen, between 2013 and 2016.

Goulard’s explanation

Goulard, who was also an MEP at the time, said her work had “no relation of any kind with the business activities” of the group’s founder, German-American billionaire Nicolas Berggruen.

She said her role included “reflection, moderating groups, organizing meetings”.

Her lawyer declined to respond Friday when contacted by AFP.

The Berggruen Institute denied in 2019 that Goulard had been given a fake job, highlighting that she organised meetings in Brussels, Paris and Madrid.

Goulard has also been charged in a probe into suspected fake jobs among assistants to MEPs from the Democratic Movement, a small centrist party that supports Macron.

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