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Paris killer leap: Police cleared

Durn lept to his death during interrogation at a police station
Durn lept to his death during interrogation at a police station  

PARIS, France -- The French police are not to be held account for the apparent suicide of a killer who fell to his death while in custody, according to justice officials.

Richard Durn is said to have scrambled through a small fourth-floor window in a police building in Paris on March 28 while being questioned over the murders of eight councillors in a shooting spree the day before.

His death sparked controversy among the survivors and victims' families who asked how he could have been allowed to escape custody.

In a statement on Saturday, the French Justice Ministry said prosecutors expected "no legal action" to be taken against the officers who were questioning Durn.

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"The report resulting from the inquiry...finds that there were errors of judgment due to an under-estimation of the risks linked to Richard Durn's personality and the layout of the premises," the statement said.

"But these errors do not justify the launching of disciplinary procedures."

However, on Saturday lawyers representing Durn's mother, Stefania Durn, said they would file a complaint seeking to establish what happened to Durn while he was in custody.

"Madame Durn hopes, for the sake of the victims and those close to them, that the full story behind her son's death comes to light," her lawyers said in a statement.

Durn, 33, went on a shooting rampage, killing the councillors and wounding 19 other people at a routine municipal meeting in the northwestern Paris suburb of Nanterre.

He is said to have spoken of suicidal thoughts and a desire to kill others.

In a confession published earlier this week in Le Parisien newspaper, Durn said he had only intended to kill Nanterre mayor Jacqueline Fraysse.

"I want to have the same stature as bin Laden, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Milosevic...," Durn wrote, according to the paper.

Fraysse survived the attack and has since being a chief critic of the police handling of the case.

She has asked: "How was (Durn) authorised to own weapons?

"How could a man this dangerous, who had clearly stated his intention to commit suicide ... escape surveillance?"

Fraysse and relatives of the victims have pushed for a full inquiry into the circumstances of Durn's death.

The case and the circumstances of Durn's death have put the spotlight on France's relatively strict gun laws.

He used two Glock semiautomatic pistols in the attack and also carried a .357 Magnum, even though his licence had expired.

The local prefecture who granted Durn a licence in 1997 has not explained why it did so despite a history of threatening behaviour.

It is also unclear why it did not require him to return his guns when he failed to renew his licence in 2000.


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