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Sophie husband `kept in dark' about murder

THE husband of murdered French woman Sophie Toscan du Plantier has broken his 13-month silence with a stinging attack on the Irish authorities.

And he revealed he was left to learn of his wife's murder on the French television news.

``The Irish told us nothing. Not a word. Nothing,'' Daniel Toscan du Plantier said in an interview with the French daily newspaper, Le Figaro.

He said the first official news he received of her death was from French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette.

He spoke of the pain of not knowing why his wife was killed or who had killed her. And, despite what the Gardai have said, he said he was convinced there was a sexual element to the crime, though he believes it was not premeditated.

The television producer was murdered at her holiday home near Schull, Co Cork in December 1996. She had gone there, alone, before a planned trip to Senegal with her husband.

Gardai have questioned a man but no charges have been brought. M du Plantier's Paris lawyer Paul Haennig has urged the investigation be wrapped up. He said it was time the Gardai accepted that irrefutable proof ``is not going to fall from the sky.''

M du Plantier says he believes his wife's killer knew her and that her name and notoriety may have had something to do with the crime. ``In the neighbourhood, everyone knew who she was, even if I went there only once, at her request.''

He also said he felt the murder could have started out as a sex crime. ``It could have played a part at the start. There could have been the desire to seduce a woman, to take her. She refuses, she fights. It turns ugly. She was hit in the head savagely. But I don't think the crime was premeditated.''

M Toscan du Plantier now lives with a woman who is expecting his child. He said he had not yet married ``out of respect for Sophie'' and spoke of his happiness at the forthcoming birth.

* A Garda spokesman said the usual notification procedure was followed as in the case of the death of any visitor to Ireland, writes Barry Roche. ``The news was conveyed through the French Embassy that's the usual procedure. Unfortunately in this case, the French media were reporting the name before the embassy could contact Mr Toscan du Plantier.''

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