A SUSPECT previously released by police has been charged with the abduction of a nine-year-old girl who went missing during a wedding in the French Alps.
The 34-year-old, who has not been named, was arrested after Maelys de Araujo’s DNA was found in his car.
Maelys was with her parents and 12-year-old sister at a party in Pont-de-Beauvoisin, north of Grenoble, on August 27 when she vanished.
The suspect denies the charges but admits Maelys had been inside his car. Lawyer Bernard Meraud said his client’s dogs were in the vehicle and ‘were mentioned during the party’ so Maelys and a young boy ‘as they were playing outside, asked to see them dogs’. Mr Meraud added: ‘He opened the door, turned over the passenger front seat, the children went on the back seat, looked inside the boot and came out. That’s it.’
The lawyer said he was concerned about the relevance of the DNA, found on the dashboard. He said: ‘If the child were to get in the car, it is not necessarily on the dashboard controls her DNA would be found.’ He said his client ‘could have been carrying DNA from the child and brought it into the car’.
The suspect was a friend of the father of the groom and arrived late at the wedding for a drink. He was one of two men detained and released last week without charge. More than 200 potential witnesses have been interviewed and hundreds of volunteers have helped in the search for Maelys. Police dogs found the girl’s scent but lost it in the carpark, suggesting she may have been forced into a vehicle or got into one voluntarily.
Many thought Maelys, whose mother was the cousin of the bride, had gone for a sleep after a game of hide-and-seek until the alarm was raised.
Detectives were said to have been alerted to the suspect when he was seen ‘thoroughly cleaning his car’.