World / Crime & Legal

France: Man detained in missing 9-year-old at wedding case

AP, AFP-JIJI

French police have detained a man for questioning in connection with the search for a 9-year-old girl who went missing at a weekend wedding party in the Alps.

The man was detained Thursday, said an official close to the police investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

A photo and a description of the girl has been posted and tweeted across France since her weekend disappearance and the local prosecutor opened a kidnapping investigation. Divers and police dogs took part in a massive hunt for the girl.

“Obviously, we are exploring all leads,” local prosecutor Dietlind Baudoin told a news conference more than 48 hours after the girl, named as Maelys de Araujo, disappeared.

The girl has not been seen since around 3:00 a.m. on Sunday when she was at the wedding with her parents in the town of Pont-de-Beauvoisin in the French Alps near the town of Chambery.

Around 100 police including divers as well as cavers and dog handlers have been searching for the girl.

Divers could be seen searching for her Tuesday in the nearby Guiers river.

“Given the time that has elapsed since the disappearance of the young Maelys and given the resources that have sadly been deployed in vain to find her, the criminal possibility can no longer be ruled out,” Baudoin said.

A source close to the investigation said “each passing hour” makes kidnapping more likely than the possibility that Maelys was involved in an accident or ran away.

“It’s likely she got into a car,” the source told AFP.

The wedding was attended by some 150 people, according to the BFMTV news channel.

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