Body of Solar cult leader 'discovered in Switzerland'

THE BODY of the wanted cult leader, Joseph di Mambro, has been identified and the hunt for the killer of up to 51 members of the Order of the Solar Temple is now focused on his charismatic deputy, Luc Jouret.

Swiss television reported that the body of Mr di Mambro had been found and, in a separate development, his passport had turned up in France, where it was delivered to the French Interior Ministry in a package addressed to Charles Pasqua, the minister.

However, the whereabouts of Mr Jouret are still unknown and police are no closer to unravelling the mystery behind the murders and the collective suicide of cult members in Switzerland and Quebec last week.

Swiss investigators are now examining Mr Jouret's dental records to see if he is among the dead, while, at the same time they are conducting an international search through Interpol.

At each of the cult's properties, sophisticated, delayed-action incendiary devices were set, with the intention of destroying evidence. One device, at the farmhouse in the village of Chiery, which was the sect's headquarters, failed.

The device apparently failed because the village's telephone lines were cut on the day of the murders. It was attached to butane gas bottles and plastic bin-bags that had been filled with petrol. Had they worked, they would have destroyed the secret chapel, where 23 bodies were found. Some people were brutally murdered while others apparently committed suicide.

On Saturday, police discovered a sophisticated incendiary bomb at a villa used by the cult in southern France. It was similar to the device that was used to set on fire houses owned by the cult in Switzerland and Quebec.

The villa near Toulon was empty and the French authorities defused the device which, like those in Chiery, consisted of bottled gas fuel containers and bin liners filled with petrol. The device was connected to electrical wiring that could have been detonated by an incoming telephone call, according to French sources.

The investigators have also uncovered what they say are 'astonishing surprises' about the cult's finances, but they have refused to elaborate. Reports from Canada suggest that Mr di Mambro, 70, who was known as the 'little Napoleon' to members, was an illegal weapons dealer. The cult would have provided an ideal front for his activities, enabling him to launder the profits without attracting undue attention because of the cult's charitable status.

Swiss judicial authorities last night said they had frozen an account held at a Geneva branch of the Societe Banque Suisse. A spokesman said the bank, one of Switzerland's three largest, had begun an inquiry into the affair.

So far the Swiss investigators say they have found no evidence of either weapons trafficking or money laundering. But Swiss banking secrecy laws could prevent full disclosure of what they uncover. Radio Canada has alleged that British, Swiss and Canadian banks handled the sect's finances and that some had been channelled through BCCI before the bank was closed in 1991.

Swiss television reported yesterday that Mr di Mambro's body had been identified. 'A member of his family who arrived from France has clearly identified the body of the man considered to be the number one in the Order of the Solar Temple,' the report said.

The autopsies on the 48 cult members found dead in Switzerland indicate that only some committed ritual suicide and that many were murdered. Some of the 23 victims in Chiery were shot repeatedly in the head and then hooded with plastic bags.

Another victim was pumped full of bullets after he was hooded, the investigative judge, Andre Piller, said at the weekend.

In Morin Heights, Quebec, police said that a British woman, Nikki Dutoit, her infant son Christopher and husband Toni were killed several days before fire destroyed the house.

Their bodies were found on Thursday in a house co-owned by Mr di Mambro and Mr Jouret. Two other charred bodies were found in the house last Tuesday and police believe they were adults who committed suicide.

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
peopleBroadcaster has a new role bringing 'the big stories that matter' to US
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
Moves to regulate e-cigarettes and similar products as medicines come amid increasing evidence of their effectiveness
healthHuge anti-smoking campaign kicks off on Wednesday
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently
filmsAn 'eccentric' choice, certainly
Life and Style
An Internet security expert has warned that voice recognition technology needs to be more secure
techExperts warn hackers could control our homes or spend our money simply by speaking
Extras
indybest
News
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style