Hélène Pastor murder: Monaco heiress’s son-in-law retracts murder confession

Wojciech Janowski confessed last week to being the 'instigator' of Mrs Pastor’s killing by two hit men, but now claims he didn’t understand some of the legal 'nuances' used by French investigators

The investigation into the fatal shooting of the Monaco property heiress Hélène Pastor has suffered a setback after her son-in-law retracted his confession on the grounds that he didn’t understand “all the nuances” of French.

Wojciech Janowski’s lawyer said the suspect had refused a translator during questioning by police in Nice. “I am Polish, I understand French but I don’t understand it well enough,” his lawyer Erick Campana said his client told a bail judge on Wednesday. Speaking on Europe1 radio, the lawyer quoted him as saying: “I don’t understand all the nuances of the French language. Particularly when people use legal terms, I don’t understand everything.”

According to prosecutors, Mr Janowski confessed last week to being the “instigator” of Mrs Pastor’s killing by two hit men from Marseilles. The billionaire property tycoon, 77, was fatally wounded by a gunman while being driven from hospital in Nice on 6 May after visiting her son. Her driver was also killed in the shooting which has gripped France.

Mr Janowski, the former honorary consul of Poland in Monaco, and Mrs Pastor’s daughter Sylvia have been together for eight years and have a daughter. Sylvia Janowski has been questioned and released without charge.

Mr Campana added that when asked whether he had ordered the assassination, his client had said “yes” to the question by police. But he had “never meant to say that ‘I intended to ask someone to murder my mother-in-law’. Maybe he didn’t properly understand the questions he was being asked.”

The lawyer said Mr Janowski should have been “forced” to accept an interpreter. He also pointed out that because of a lawyers’ strike, his client had not benefited from the presence of a lawyer and had been alone during police questioning for four days.

Mr Janowski is accused of having paid €250,000 (£200,000) to his personal trainer, Pascal Dauriac, as an intermediary to organise the murder. According to Marseilles prosecutors, Mr Dauriac has admitted paying €200,000 to two men to carry out the murder.