A 48-year-old divorced Briton locked in a bitter custody battle has confessed to killing his two young children by slitting their throats near the eastern French city of Lyons.
The bodies of a five-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy were discovered on Saturday afternoon in the man's apartment in Saint-Priest, a suburb of Lyons. Witnesses said the man, covered in blood, fled the scene of the crime on roller skates.
The unemployed father confessed on Sunday to the gruesome crime "but did not go into details of the motive", prosecutors said.
The tragedy was "linked to a bitter separation" and "the state of his visitation rights which he considered insufficient", another judicial source said.
"In 2010, there was an incident of violence with his spouse which led to restrictions on his visitation rights," the source said.
He was arrested on Saturday in Lyons. A judicial official said a knife which is thought to have been the murder weapon had been found.
The man had visitation rights but only in the presence of another person, the official said, adding that this was the first time he had brought the children home to his apartment on the second floor of a four-storey building without a third party being present.
He remained in custody over the weekend and was to be presented to a prosecutor yesterday. Police were also questioning his ex-wife, notably to learn more about "the legal framework of the children's visits to their father".
Several witnesses said the man fled on roller skates after his former wife encountered him on the stairwell of the building and saw him with bloodstained clothes. She alerted police.
A neighbour said the mother was being comforted by relatives.