If three suspects have been imprisoned, the investigations carried out by the gendarmes of the Montpellier research section are continuing in order to determine the exact circumstances and their degree of involvement in the fire and the explosion which caused the death of eight people. on February 14 in the heart of Sant-Laurent-de-la-Salanque.
As a reminder, a 27-year-old illegal immigrant, who had been seriously injured at the time of the events, was arrested and is considered to be the executor in the tragedy which struck Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque on February 14. He was indicted for “wilful destruction by fire causing death and injury”. According to the first elements, the night of the tragedy, he would have been in the back of the grocery store on the ground floor of the devastated housing. He would have placed bottles filled with gasoline in the premises. What happened next ? Did he start the fire? The man reportedly explained that he pressed a switch to turn off the light and not remember anything. Still, the fuel vapors would have exploded. The explosion would then have blown the whole building, would have started a fire which would have spread in the floors and would have projected the respondent outside the business by the back door of the building. So much so that the first witnesses assumed that he had defenestrated to escape the flames.
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To buy another business in the town…
During his hearing, the man also claimed that he had acted at the request of the grocer and his brother in the plan to deceive the insurance and collect compensation which would be estimated at €125,000. . A sum which, according to his statements, was to be used by the merchant to buy a bar-restaurant in the town where, in return, he would have promised to employ him.
Nevertheless, the 43-year-old grocer and his 40-year-old brother, suspected of being the sponsors and also remanded in custody, would dispute any involvement in these criminal acts. They would have confirmed their desire to acquire another business in Saint-Laurent in which the brother would have started working a few weeks ago. They would claim to have even paid deposits and would deny any financial difficulties, maintaining that they would have sold goods in their country in order to pay for the transaction. And this despite the eviction procedure initiated due to unpaid rent for the grocery store.
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But another point would have especially intrigued the investigators. The grocer would have visited his insurer a few days before the tragedy in order to pay arrears of contributions but also to renegotiate and increase the amount of compensation in the event of a claim…
If it appears that the intention of the three suspects was not to cause the death of the victims, they incur however, in view of the qualification of the facts, a trial at the assizes and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
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Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque tragedy: “I left my house this morning just to show everyone that it was not me who was in police custody”