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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2007, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Court hears of 'threats' to earl
Mohammed M'Barek and Jamila M'Barek in court
Mohammed and Jamila M'Barek say the earl was killed accidentally
A woman who was having an affair with the late Earl of Shaftesbury at the time he died has told a trial in France of threats made to them by his wife.

Nadia Orche, 36, said Jamila M'Barek had demanded money from Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 66, to pay debts.

She told the court the earl, who had homes in Sussex and London, had become afraid of his wife and her family before his death in 2004.

Ms M'Barek, 45, and her brother Mohammed, 43, deny murdering the earl.

'Accidental' death

Miss Orche worked in Cannes as a bar hostess, which was also a previous profession of Ms M'Barek.

After meeting Lord Ashley-Cooper there, she said he asked her to "be faithful and full of love, and I will remain loyal and faithful to him to the end of my days".

The Moroccan woman claimed his marriage to Ms M'Barek had fallen apart because she was only interested in his money.

Miss Orche told the court on Wednesday the earl had become afraid of visiting his wife's apartment in Cannes because other people were often hanging around, particularly Mohammed M'Barek.

The 10th Earl of Shaftesbury (file image)
The 10th Earl of Shaftesbury lived a flamboyant lifestyle in France

Mr M'Barek and Ms M'Barek claim Lord Ashley-Cooper died accidentally during a drunken argument.

The prosecution say Ms M'Barek paid her brother to kill the earl, because he was in the process of divorcing her and she feared being left out of his will.

The playboy aristocrat went missing from the French Riviera on 5 November 2004.

His body was found in the foothills of the French Alps five months later.

The murder trial also heard from a fortune teller on Wednesday, who said she was visited by the earl the day before he disappeared.

Martine Dupre-Cordier said: "The lord told me he wanted to divorce his wife."

She added that she did not predict his death but in fact told him that his divorce would go smoothly and happiness lay ahead of him.

Lord Ashley-Cooper inherited his title from his grandfather at the age of 22, along with a 9,000-acre family estate in Dorset.


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SEE ALSO
Marriage to earl 'was a curse'
22 May 07 |  England
Mobile led police to earl's body
07 Apr 05 |  Southern Counties
Earl's body 'is found in France'
06 Apr 05 |  Southern Counties
Earl's relative to be extradited
14 Mar 05 |  Southern Counties
Profile: Earl of Shaftesbury
28 Feb 05 |  England

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