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In Paris seven of our girls are murdered while French police spend millions investigating Diana's death; FURY AT BUNGLED HUNT FOR BEAST OF THE BASTILLE.

THE FAMILIES of seven girls murdered by a serial killer have angrily criticised Paris police... for spending six months and millions of pounds investigating Princess Diana's death while the pervert who slayed their daughters still walks free.

The huge police investigation into the crash that killed the Princess is still no nearer a conclusion.

Yet in the same period - and passing largely unnoticed - the killer called the Beast of the Bastille has claimed his sixth and seventh victims in Paris.

It has finally led to an explosion of anger with the French police accused of bungling the hunt by concentrating too much manpower on the inquiry into Diana's death.

"If only the police spent as much time trying to find my daughter's murderer as investigating that crash," said Chantal Sirotti, whose student daughter Magali became the murderer's sixth victim.

"Poor Diana's death was a tragedy, but she didn't suffer the horrendous death of my daughter or the other victims. So many lives have been wasted and so many families destroyed."

The mother of another victim added: "How many more will be slaughtered before the killer is caught?

"The police haven't found the serial killer and there seem to be big holes in the Diana investigation. Can't they get anything right?"

A suspect was arrested in London last week by Scotland Yard officers acting on information supplied by Paris police. But he was freed as DNA tests did not match.

It was just the latest in a series of a bungles in the hunt for the murderer over the last eight years. A photofit of the killer wasn't issued and police didn't realise they were hunting for a serial murderer until one of the victim's mother's pointed out similarities with other cases.

Even then they didn't want to make it public in case it "alarmed" the public.

The hunt for the monster is being led by Martine Monteil, head of the elitle Paris criminal brigade. She is also in charge of the Diana inquiry and still has 24 officers working on it.

Meanwhile the serial killer is still at large, prowling the streets. His prey are pretty single women. In most cases, he forces his way into their home, ties them to their bed, then rapes them before slitting their throats.

At 19, Magali Sirotti was his youngest victim. Less than a month after Diana died, the killer called at Magali's flat near the Bastille in eastern Paris. He bound her hands, raped and killed her.

"There was so much noise made about Diana's death that when Magali was killed, the case just got swamped," said her mother. Mrs Sirotti pleaded with police to warn the public that an evil psychopath was on the loose. She says she was ignored. Then, on November 16 the killer struck for the seventh time, and his last so far. Secretary Estelle Magd, 25, was murdered in her flat a few streets from Magali's. She was found in a pool of blood by her father, Jean-Claude.

She had been raped and tortured but had put up a furious fight. Her executioner left behind his sweatshirt, soaked in his own blood as well as hers.

It was only then that detectives released a photofit - a picture that had been compiled more than two years before.

In June, 1995 the killer pounced on medical student Elizabeth Ortega, 25. She was tied to her bed, but managed to break free when her attacker went to switch off a light. Elizabeth described him to detectives as being 25 to 30, North African, muscular, well-spoken and also well-dressed. Oddly, he took off his shoes after tying her up.

Armed with these vital clues, detectives could have launched a publicity blitz to warn young women and hopefully draw the net around the serial killer. Instead, they did nothing for fear of "alarming single women. "I was sickened when I discovered a photofit already existed before my daughter died," said Mrs Sirotti. "She could have been saved, and so could other women.

Three weeks after Elizabeth gave police their best lead so far, the killer struck again. He raped nurse Helene Frinting, 27, after tying her up with insulating tape. Then he cut her throat.

Her mother Anne Goutier said police didn't even bother to make house- to-house inquiries where her daughter lived.

Helene was the fifth single girl to die in similar circumstances. The killer, first struck in 1991, raping law student Pascale Escafail,24, before cutting her throat. He didn't strike again until 1994 when he murdered Cathy Rocher, 27, Elsa Benady, 23, and Agnes Nijcamp, 32.

But it was Mrs Goutier rather than the police that realised there was a link and that a serial killer was on the loose.

Yet rather than being grateful, the police urged her to keep quiet for fear of causing panic. And the photofit stayed in a police drawer.

Mrs Gautier's anger finally boiled over after the deaths of Magali and Estelle. "If the police had done their job properly these two women would still be alive," she raged. "I understand the importance of the Diana investigation but I'm bitter police didn't spend the same amount of time finding this killer."

A psychological profile which has only recently been compiled suggests the killer is possibly a former soldier.

He takes with him a "crime kit" of a butcher's knife, a cut-throat razor, cord and tape. He also collects souvenirs from his victims' homes - including a camera, CDs, shoes, jewellery, underwear and a watch. He left an Army-issue condom at one murder scene.

A police source said "significant means" were being devoted to the murder hunt and denied there had been any incompetence. The attack on Elizabeth has been definitely linked to the other murders by DNA samples taken from a cigarette end the killer dropped at another victim's flat.

Police say they have collected thousands of scraps of information, interviewed hundreds of people, checked dozens of leads as well as alerting other European forces.

Martine Monteil, who is bound by the secrecy imposed by French law, has not spoken publicly about the case. Her only comment has been: "This case is between him and me."

The whole of Paris is praying that it is a battle she wins - and quickly - before the Beast of the Bastille strikes again.

Diana and her Dodi - Pages 32-33
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Author:Hussell, Lesley
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 22, 1998
Words:1061
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