A Polish convicted criminal yesterday admitted kidnapping and murdering a 9 years old girl who squirted him with a water pistol as he drank beer in Calais while waiting for a ferry to Britain.
The man, named as Zbigniew H., 38, seized the little girl by the neck and dragged her into his car shouting “I will kill you”, witnesses said.
Her partially clothed body was found in woodland two hours later. The local state prosecutor, Jean-Pierre Valensi, said yesterday that the man had admitted murdering and sexually assaulting the girl.
The death of Chloe, abducted on Wednesday as she played in the street outside her own home, has caused a wave of shock and anger in France. The mayoress of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, led a silent march of protest through the streets of the Channel port tonight.
In a tweet urging local people to join the march, she said that Calais was “in mourning for Chloe” and ordered flags to be flown at half mast.
Chloe’s suspected killer was released from a French prison in March last year after serving four years of a six year sentence for extortion and violence. He was deported to Poland and banned from returning to French territory.
The prosecutor said that he was driving from Poland to Britain to visit his sister on Wednesday afternoon when he pulled into a side street in Calais to drink beer.
Eye-witnesses said that they saw the little girl and a friend squirt him with a water pistol through the open car window. A neighbour told the local paper, La Voix du Nord, that he had seen the man seize Chloe by the neck, “almost strangling her”.
“She struggled and tried to get way. He held her against a wall and shouted ‘I will kill you’,” the eyewitness said. He then bundled her into his car and drove away as her mother looked on.
When arrested on Wednesday night close to the woodland on the edge of Calais where the child’s body was found, Zbigniew W was breathalysed and had more than twice the permitted limit of alcohol for drivers in his blood, the prosecutor said.
He told a press conference yesterday that that the man had confessed to sexually assaulting and strangling the girl. The suspect faces charges of abducting a minor, rape and murder.
The Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, promised an investigation on why the suspected killer was released early from a French prison and how he came to return to France. The interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said that he had already asked the Polish authorities for an explanation.
Poland, Germany and France are members of the European Union’s “Schengen” open borders agreement. Anyone driving from Poland to Calais, could do so without showing a passport.