Page last updated at 17:51 GMT, Tuesday, 1 July 2008 18:51 UK

French murder victim is exhumed

The family grave of late Sophie Toscan du Plantier, file image
Ms Toscan du Plantier's family hope the move could uncover new evidence

The body of the wife of a legendary French film producer has been exhumed, almost 12 years after her murder in southern Ireland.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier, who was married to the late Daniel Toscan du Plantier, was beaten to death near her holiday home in County Cork in 1996.

No-one has been charged with the murder and last year her family renewed their campaign for fresh inquiries.

It is thought her body will undergo detailed post-mortem tests in Paris.

A French judge ordered the exhumation last week, and her body was taken from a graveyard in the southern French region of Lozere on Tuesday.

'Remarkable discoveries'

There has been no official explanation for the exhumation, but her family has expressed hope that DNA tests may yield new clues.

Her uncle, Jean-Pierre Gazeau, told the Irish Times: "Taking account of the progress in medical science over the past decade, they can search for DNA.

"They can study the head wounds and breaks in the skull. There should still be traces [of DNA].

"Forensic scientists are now able to make remarkable discoveries from very few elements."

Mrs Toscan du Plantier, whose husband was a central figure in French cinema for several decades until his death in 2003, was found in a country lane in Schull, West Cork, on 23 December 1996.

A preliminary inquest was told she had suffered severe head and facial injuries which had been caused by a blunt instrument. No murder weapon was ever found.

Last year her family established the Association for the Truth about the Murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier to try to help in the hunt for the killer.

French murder victim is exhumed
01 Jul 08 |  Europe

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