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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 April, 2005, 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
Earl's body 'is found in France'
The 10th Earl of Shaftesbury
The earl was last seen at a hotel in Cannes in early November
The body of the missing Earl of Shaftesbury has been found in the south of France, according to his sister.

Lady Frances Ashley-Cooper said French police are due to carry out a post-mortem examination and DNA tests before formally identifying the body.

Decomposing remains were discovered on Tuesday afternoon in the French Alps about 30 miles from Nice.

The Dorset earl, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, who had homes in Sussex and London, had been missing for five months.

His estranged third wife, Jamila M'Barek, 37, and her brother, Mohammed M'Barek, 40, were both arrested on suspicion of murder.

'Proper burial'

Lady Ashley-Cooper said it had been a very long and difficult time but added: "At last the family's anguish is over."

Speaking from her home in the south of France she said they were now looking to give the earl "the proper funeral and burial he deserves".

"I knew that he had been killed, I knew it deep down, but the fact that they have found him will help the investigation.

"Obviously it is a shock because it is now definitive but at the same time it is a relief because it means one is able to progress."

I knew that he had been killed, I knew it deep down
Lady Frances Ashley-Cooper, the earl's sister

Lady Ashley-Cooper also praised the work of French police investigators since the earl's disappearance from the Noga Hilton Hotel in Cannes on 6 November 2004, saying they had done a "remarkable job".

Police in Sussex in the UK made an initial appeal for the earl to get in touch after he failed to return to his home in Adelaide Crescent, Hove, after a stay in the Antibes area of France.

Jamila M'Barek has allegedly confessed to playing a part in the earl's disappearance.

She is undergoing treatment for depression at a prison hospital in Nice.

Extradited

Ms M'Barek's lawyer Franck De Vita said at the end of February that she was blaming her brother for the earl's murder.

The Earl of Shaftesbury and Jamila M'Barek
Anthony Ashley-Cooper and Jamila M'Barek were married in Holland

Mohammed M'Barek was arrested in Munich, Germany, and has also been placed under investigation for murder after being extradited to France.

It will be some time before the body is officially identified and a cause of death established, but a post mortem and DNA tests are due to be carried out.

The prosecutor for the town of Grasse, situated between Cannes and Nice, said: "The autopsy is unlikely to be completed before the end of the week.

"DNA samples will be sent away and it is unlikely there will be confirmation of the identity before the end of next week."

'Distressed'

A family liaison officer from Sussex Police has spoken to the earl's second wife.

Lady Christine and the earl's eldest son Anthony, who are from Dorset, are currently in Switzerland.

A police spokeswoman said they were "very distressed" by the latest news.

The 10th Earl of Shaftesbury, who was 66, inherited his title from his grandfather and with it the family seat at Wimborne, Dorset.

He owned property in Brighton and London, but most was in France including apartments in Cannes and Versailles and a country home near Toulouse.


SEE ALSO:
Earl's relative to be extradited
14 Mar 05 |  Southern Counties
Earl case wife 'blames brother'
01 Mar 05 |  England
Wife admits earl's disappearance
28 Feb 05 |  England
Profile: Earl of Shaftesbury
28 Feb 05 |  England


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