August 14, 2019 / 4:46 AM / 3 days ago

France opens criminal probe into death of Irish girl in Malaysia

PARIS/SEREMBAN (Reuters) - The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened a criminal probe into the death of an Irish-French girl, whose body was found near a jungle stream in Malaysia, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

A body believed to be 15-year-old Irish girl Nora Anne Quoirin who went missing is brought out of a helicopter in Seremban, Malaysia, August 13, 2019. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

The remains of Nora Anne Quoirin, 15, were found on Tuesday, 10 days after she went missing from a rainforest resort in Seremban, about 70 km (44 miles) south of Kuala Lumpur..

An autopsy begun on Wednesday morning had yet to conclude, Malaysian police said, adding that forensic pathologists were still working to determine the cause of Quoirin’s death.

The Paris prosecutor had opened a criminal investigation into Quoirin’s case for kidnapping on Aug. 9, a spokeswoman told Reuters in a text message.

French prosecutors regularly launch investigations on cases involving French citizens abroad. Nora’s mother is from Belfast while her father is French.

Malaysia’s Negeri Sembilan state police chief Mohamad Mat Yusop declined to comment on the French probe.

Quoirin’s family lawyer Sankara N. Nair had earlier called on Malaysian police to accept an offer by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to help investigate the circumstances of the girl’s death.

“It’s a very good proposal. I hope police will accept the assistance,” Nair told Reuters.

Quoirin’s naked body was found in a deep ravine, about 2.5 km (1.6 miles) from The Dusun resort, where she had disappeared a day after her family arrived for a holiday there on Aug. 3.

Her family feared a criminal connection to her disappearance, saying she had special needs and had never before left the family voluntarily, a British victims’ group, the Lucie Blackman Trust, said in a statement issued on their behalf.

An initial investigation had yielded no evidence of criminal behaviour but police would look at all possibilities, Malaysia’s deputy police chief Mazlan Mansor said on Tuesday.

Reporting by Simon Carraud in PARIS, France and Liz Lee in SEREMBAN, Malaysia; Writing by Krishna N. Das and Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Michael Perry, and Toby Chopra

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