(SKY NEWS) – The son-in-law of a murdered Monaco billionaire has gone on trial in a case prosecutors say has the hallmarks of a crime thriller.
Wojciech Janowski and nine other people are suspected of being behind the attack on Helene Pastor, who was fatally shot with a sawn-off shotgun along with her chauffeur in their car.
Janowski, 69, originally confessed to ordering the killing of the heiress to get his hands on her fortune, which was estimated to be worth between €12bn (£10.6bn) and €20bn (£17.8bn).
The Cambridge University graduate later retracted the confession saying he had misunderstood the investigator’s line of questioning.
Prosecutors claim her alleged killers left behind multiple clues that it was them.
Ms Pastor, who was visiting her son, was killed as she left a hospital in Nice on the French Riviera on 6 May 2014.
The chauffeur died a few days later whilst Ms Pastor, 77, was still in a coma.
She at one stage woke up and told investigators: “I’m afraid, I want to see you again because I have more to tell.”
Before she could, Ms Pastor succumbed to her injuries on 21 May 2014.
Police quickly identified two men suspected of carrying out what they now believe was a contract killing orchestrated by Janowski, originally from Poland.
The suspected killer Samine Said Ahmed, 28, is one of those on trial and has denied the charges.
Al Hair Hamadi, 35, is accused of acting as a lookout.
The men, originally from the Comoros Islands off the coast of Mozambique, were living in Marseille’s northern districts.
Video surveillance cameras in Marseille caught them buying mobile phones and boarding a train for Nice, where their DNA traces were found on a bottle left in a hotel room.
They could also be seen waiting for Ms Pastor opposite the hospital, where they arrived by taxi after unsuccessfully trying to buy a scooter for their getaway.
A source close to the inquiry said: “It’s the first time we’ve seen killers use a taxi to reach the scene of a crime – they did everything you’re not supposed to do.”
Ms Pastor inherited a huge real estate and construction business set up by her Italian grandfather Jean-Baptite Pastor, a stone mason who moved to Monaco in 1880.
Phone records led to several suspected accomplices who will also be on trial in Aix-en-Provence, just outside Marseille, with the hearing expected to run until October 19.
Janowski, who was a businessman, has been married to Ms Pastor’s daughter Sylvia for 28 years.
He was Poland’s honorary consul to Monaco before being stripped of the title after he was charged.
Janowski headed a nanotechnology firm and an oil business, and was said to be involved in numerous charities in the principality.
But prosecutors say his business ventures were not as successful as he claimed, and he was hoping the inheritance money would help him recover even though he was already receiving part of the €500,000 Ms Pastor gave her daughter each month.
Sylvia was reportedly diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and Janowski is said to have realised he was facing financial ruin.
A month after the murders, Janowski’s personal trainer Pascal Dauriac, 49, admitted to organising the hit using his brother-in-law to recruit the two killers.
He said: “Janowski tricked me.
“He said his mother-in-law was a monster.”
Dauriac also claimed Janowski himself had scouted out the hospital and wanted to have Pastor’s son killed too.
Janowski allegedly spent 250,000 euros ($291,000) to hire contract killers.