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French press apologises for report after mistaken identity revealed in French murder mystery

Journalists outside the house in Limay, west of Paris, searched by police in connection to an arrest of a man in Scotland who was thought to have been fugitive murder suspect Xavier Dupont De Ligonnes, 12 October 2019
Journalists outside the house in Limay, west of Paris, searched by police in connection to an arrest of a man in Scotland who was thought to have been fugitive murder suspect Xavier Dupont De Ligonnes, 12 October 2019 Thomas SAMSON / AFP

Scotland's police on Saturday released a man after he was mistaken for a French fugitive wanted for killing his wife and four children eight years ago. Le Parisien newspaper, which on Friday reported the arrest in Glasgow, has reportedly apologised to the man and his family.

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French judicial sources had initially believed that they had finally caught up with Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes, who was subject to an international arrest warrant for the 2011 killings which transfixed France.

But Scotland's police said they had informed their French counterparts that forensic tests proved the man detained at Glasgow airport on Friday was not Dupont de Ligonnes.

"Inquiries were undertaken to confirm the man's identity. Following the results of these tests it has been confirmed that the man arrested is not the man suspected of crimes in France," the police," said in a statement.

"The man has since been released. The man and his family have no wish to speak to the media at this time and ask that their privacy be respected on this matter."

Sources close to the probe said the conclusion was reached after DNA tests.

Le Parisien, which published the original story of the man's arrest based on police sources said in a statement it wanted to express its "sincere regret for having made public information which turned out to be wrong".

Several other media outlets, including AFP, offered reasons for doing the same.

The detained man was stopped in Glasgow after arriving on a flight from Paris following an anonymous tip-off, according to French sources close to the investigation.

A police search was carried out on Friday at the arrested man's house in Limay in the western suburbs of Paris.

Neighbours told AFP the house belonged to Guy Joao, a man of Portuguese origin with French and British nationality and who is married to a Scottish woman.

Neighbours interviewed by the press said they were shocked. They had known Joao for thirty years, and said Joao did not "look anything like" Dupont de Ligonnes.

Dupont de Ligonnes, 58, is suspected of shooting his family dead and burying them under the terrace of their townhouse in Nantes, western France.

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