The son-in-law of a Monaco heiress gunned down in a Mafia-style killing has been charged with her murder for allegedly paying hitmen €250,000 (HK$263,895) in cash and "presents" for the brazen attack that has shaken the principality's super-rich.
Wojciech Janowski, a 64-year-old who served as Poland's honorary consul in Monaco, was charged for last month's killing of 77-year-old Helene Pastor, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said.
Robin said Janowski had spent €200,000 in cash and €50,000 worth of presents to carry out the contract killing.
Robin said Janowski's motive was to "lay his hands on the heritage" of his partner Sylvia Pastor, Helene Pastor's eldest daughter.
He said Sylvia Pastor felt "betrayed" by the affair. "She is in a very difficult psychological state," Robin said, adding that Janowski's personal trainer had "organised" the killing.
Poland said yesterday that Janowski had been stripped of his honorary consul title "because of the loss of the irreproachable reputation that is essential for this role". The role did not confer diplomatic immunity.
Janowski has been in custody since Monday, when he was arrested along with 22 others by police investigating the shooting of Pastor multiple times with a sawn-off shotgun as she was leaving a hospital in the French Riviera city of Nice.
Her driver, Mohammed Darwich, 64, also died from injuries sustained in the May 6 attack.
Janowski's partner Sylvia was also detained for questioning but released on Thursday without charge. Ten others were released on Wednesday.
Robin said earlier that police had identified two suspects alleged to have been hitmen hired to kill Pastor.
The two men - a 31-year-old and a 24-year-old originally from the Comoros islands and living in Marseille's rough northern districts - had been identified as being "present at the location of the killing". The 24-year-old, Samine Said Ahmed, was the shooter, Robin said, while the older one served as the lookout.
They were found thanks to surveillance cameras, mobile telephone records and traces of DNA discovered in a Nice hotel where they stayed on the day of the killing.
Police are also said to be investigating "suspicious financial flows" in Janowski's accounts.
Sources in the close-knit community said they were shocked.
"There is no way I can imagine he is behind this unbelievable story," said one. Describing Janowski as "distinguished, always with a smile," the source said he had "enough wealth" not to need to think about obtaining an inheritance from Pastor's death.