Boy, 11, found dead after going missing on holiday in France

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The Independent Online

A decomposed body found weighted by a breeze block in a pond in western France has been identified as that of an 11-year-old boy abducted from a children's holiday centre 20 miles away seven weeks ago.

A decomposed body found weighted by a breeze block in a pond in western France has been identified as that of an 11-year-old boy abducted from a children's holiday centre 20 miles away seven weeks ago.

Jonathan, who vanished in the middle of the night, had been killed before his body was thrown in the pond, near Guérande in the Loire Atlantique, west of Saint-Nazaire.

The prosecutor has ordered a murder investigation but investigators admitted they had few clues to the identity or motive of the killer. The body was too badly decomposed to reveal the cause of death or whether the boy had been sexually assaulted.

The disappearance of Jonathan from an unlocked bedroom in a holiday camp near Nantes raised renewed fears about the safety of the extended school trips, which are common in France. There have been several other incidents in recent years of children being threatened, harmed or abducted, including the murder of the 13-year-old British schoolgirl Caroline Dickinson at a youth hostel in Brittany in 1996. A Spanish labourer, Arce Montes, will go on trial for Caroline's murder in Rennes on 7 June.

Jonathan, whose second name has not been published, was on an Easter school trip from Cher in central France. Police believed at first that he might have run away from the centre, even though he took no clothes or shoes.

His body was found on Wednesday in the pond in the grounds of a 17th-century manor house, converted into apartments, about 20 miles from the centre at the mouth of the river Loire where he was staying.

Investigators said that a preliminary medical examination showed that Jonathan was already dead when he was thrown into the pond, his body attached to the breeze block.

Lieutenant-Colonel Stéphane Ottavi, head of the gendarmerie investigation unit in Rennes, who is leading the murder inquiry, said: "I cannot tell you that we have any kind of theory to go on at the moment."

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