13 suspects accused of kidnapping French millionaire hotel owner stand on trial
Jacqueline Veyrac, the 80-year-old owner of the five-star Grand Hotel in Cannes, was kidnapped outside her home in Nice in October 2016. She was found two days later by a dog walker in a van, bound and gagged.
The 13 suspects that are on trial involve an Italian restauranter, a British former soldier, and a private detective. They were in the courtroom for the opening of the trial in Nice on Monday, 4th of January. Ms. Veyrac will give her testimony on Thursday, and the proceedings are expected to end on the 29th of January.
Ms. Veyrac, former restaurant manager stands as main suspect
Ms. Veyrac owns both the Grand hotel and the La reserve restaurant in Nice. The restaurant’s former manager, Giuseppe Serena is currently the main suspect.
His contract was reportedly terminated by Ms. Veyrac in 2009. The 67-years-old then allegedly ordered her abduction in order to obtain a €5m (£4.5m; $6.1m) ransom which he planned to use to open a new restaurant.
The Italian national is also accused of masterminding an earlier attempt to kidnap Ms. Veyrac in 2013. Mr. Serena, who has been in pre-trial custody for four years, denies all charges raised against him which include: complicity in kidnapping and attempted extortion as part of a gang.
The French hotel owner was forced to drink a sedative
According to investigators, one of the kidnappers allegedly threatened to kill her. Ms. Veyrac also told police she was forced to drink a sedative, and she was bound by her wrists and ankles.
The kidnapping, which happened on 24 October 2016, involved two masked men shoving Ms. Veyrac into a stolen van as she was about to get into her car.
She was eventually rescued the next day, after she managed to free her hands and alert a passing dog-walker before being rescued.