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France - Bolivia

French tourists' suspected murder trial opens in Bolivia

Jérémie Bellanger (L) and Fannie Blancho
Jérémie Bellanger (L) and Fannie Blancho Reuters/Agencia Boliviana de Informacion

The trial of four men believed to have murdered two French tourists in a remote part of Bolivia in 2010 opened on Monday. Judges were set to Tuesday on whether to proceed, according to the couple's families' lawyer.

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Jérémie Bellanger, 25, and Fannie Blancho, 23, disappeared at dawn on 29 August 2010 in Guayamerin, a remote area in the far north-east of the country while they were on a holiday of several months in Latin America.

Although their bodies have never been found, investigators believe that they were probably killed after an attempt to rape Blancho.

Four men face trial in the case but only the principal suspect, Jaime Martinez, has been taken into custody.

The trial opened on Monday, with the victims' families present, after being put off several times due to the resignation of judges and disagreements over the make-up of the jury.

It has been moved to the town of Trinidad, also in the north-east, from Martinez's home town, Santa Ana, because of fears that there might be intimidation of witnesses and/or jurors.

According to the families' lawyer, Audalia Zurita, the defence called for it to be called off on the grounds that the alleged crime took place more than three years ago and judges were to respond to the bid on Tuesday.

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