Monday 25 September 2017

French prosecutor opens formal kidnapping investigation into disappearance of girl (9) at wedding

A photo of missing Maelys. Photo: AP
A photo of missing Maelys. Photo: AP

Sylvie Corbet

A French prosecutor has opened a formal kidnapping investigation into the disappearance of a nine-year-old girl who went missing from a wedding celebration last weekend.

Grenoble deputy prosecutor Laurent Becuywe said at a news conference that no leads would be cast aside in the investigation, including the possibility that the girl was the victim of an accident.

Two men, both 34, were released without charge on Friday night after being questioned, Mr Becuywe said. They were detained Thursday and Friday.

Investigators sought explanation from the men on "some elements", he said. "As things stand, it was decided these elements were not enough to justify charges."

He declined to elaborate.

Hundreds of volunteers were helping search Saturday for the girl, who has been identified only by the first name Maelys.

She was last seen on August 27 at the village hall in Pont-de-Beauvoisin, 53 miles from Lyon in south-eastern France.

Police dogs found the girl's scent but lost it in the hall's car park, suggesting she may have been forced into a vehicle or got into one voluntarily.

Police requisitioned photos and videos taken by wedding guests to look for any unusual activity.

Mr Becuywe said police have questioned more than 200 potential witnesses and carried out about 40 house searches in recent days.

"The absolute priority is to find the young Maelys," he added.

Until Saturday, the girl's disappearance was subject to a preliminary investigation. The formal investigation has two judges assigned to the case.

Press Association

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