Man arrested over French students' murder

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The Independent Online

A 21-year-old man was arrested today in connection with the murders of French students Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez.

The friends, both 23, were bound, gagged and stabbed to death in a bedsit in New Cross, south London on Sunday night.

The Metropolitan Police said the man was arrested at 3.40am and is in custody at a police station in south-east London.



The two friends were living in the capital while they worked on a three-month research project at Imperial College London.

The director of the French university attended by Mr Bonomo and Mr Ferez spoke of the "brilliant professional future" the murdered men have been denied.

Claude-Gilles Dussap, head of the Polytech Clermont-Ferrand in central France, also said that a silent procession would be held on campus to commemorate the murdered men.

In a statement, Mr Dussap said: "Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez were carrying out an assignment at Imperial College London in the Department of Life Sciences.

"Like all the staff and students at the school, I was deeply shocked to learn of their death on the evening of June 29 in particularly tragic circumstances.

"Our thoughts first and foremost go to their families and those close to them. The entire Clermontaise university community associates itself with their immense pain.

"Laurent and Gabriel were particularly known for their commitment in the life of our school and beyond the normal structures that govern student life. They were promised a brilliant professional future.

"For them - especially for them and because they would have wanted it - the school will recover from this blow while keeping a luminous memory of them.

"A silent procession will be held on Monday July 7 at 1800 starting at Polytech Clermont-Ferrand."

According to Le Parisien, Mr Bonomo's best friend at school, called Aurelien, said: "You could always count on him."

Another friend, Erik, said: "He was really happy all the time. He was a party type, always open to other people."

Mr Ferez's grandmother Rejane Ferez reportedly said her grandson - who she described as an "angel, great boy" - was finding life in London tough.

"Both Gabriel and Laurent were greatly looking forward to getting back home," she said.

The bio-chemistry students were in the second year of a three-year Master's degree.

Mr Bonomo, from Velaux, near Marseille, and Mr Ferez, from Prouzel, near Amiens, had been selected to take part in a three-month research project and were due to return home later this month.

Police last night said the men might have died for the sake of two handheld games consoles.

Detectives said two Sony PSP consoles, costing £130 each, were stolen from Mr Bonomo's rented flat in Sterling Gardens, New Cross, south London.

Officers are also hunting a black Packard Bell laptop taken in the previous burglary while Mr Bonomo was in the shower.

Mr Ferez, who lived in South Norwood, had travelled to spend the evening at his friend's flat, where they were playing computer games.

Det Chief Insp Mick Duthie, leading the investigation, said: "The more we find out about them (the victims) the more we find they were good, honest, hard working young men; very intelligent, never caused anybody any problems, they were well liked and come from respectable families. This is just a tragedy."

A pathologist documented 243 separate injuries to the badly-burned bodies, with Mr Bonomo suffering 80 wounds after he died. It is believed the Frenchmen were dead before the fire started.

Neighbours dialled 999 after an explosion blew the windows out and ignited a fierce blaze shortly after 10pm. They called out to find out if anybody was in the flat but nobody responded.

Mr Bonomo's fiancee, Mary Bertez, has vowed to avenge his death.

She wrote on a social networking site: "I will never stop thinking about you for a second. I had 10 months of a happiness I had never experienced until then.

"I will give all the required information to the investigation, my dear, so you can be avenged."

Officers said yesterday they were following up on about 25 calls which have been received in relation to the murders.