Briton arrested in Nimes murder probe

Police outside the house were the murder suspect lives in Nimes
Image caption The murder of the mother-of-three in Nimes made the national headlines in France

A British man has been arrested in the French town of Nimes in connection with the murder of a 34-year-old jogger.

The man, who has not been named, is 32 and from Chatham in Kent, according to the AFP news agency.

He is being questioned over the murder of a mother-of-three, Joudia Zimmat, whose body was found on Thursday in scrubland on the outskirts of Nimes.

French police told a press conference the suspect's DNA had been identified on items at the murder scene, AFP said.

The man lived with his mother in a neighbourhood of Nimes. Police searched the home on Tuesday morning.

Local police chief Gilles Soulier said: "He is not denying everything but he is not admitting everything either."

He said the Briton was arrested because he proved "evasive" when he was questioned about his movements around the time of the murder.

'Partially clothed'

The BBC's Christian Fraser in Paris said: "The people in Nimes have been urged to be extremely vigilant since the weekend given the nature of the crime.

Image caption Residents were urged to be extremely vigilant after the woman's body was found in a thicket in Nimes

"She [the victim] was a mother of three children, she was out jogging on the outskirts of Nimes in southern France and was found late on Thursday, dumped in a thicket near a local cemetery.

"She was partially clothed and had obviously been sexually assaulted. The post-mortem showed that she had been stabbed several times. Two rocks were also found, which her attacker may have beaten her with as well.

"They arrested a man last night, it has been national headlines here."

He added: "This morning the 32-year-old was taken in handcuffs to the house he shares with his mother.

"In the forensic search police say they recovered a knife with blades similar to the one found at the scene."

He is reported to have denied being involved in the woman's death.

The semi-clothed body of the woman was found after her children's school alerted her partner that she had failed to pick them up, AFP reported.

A box cutter-style knife and two blood-stained stones found nearby are thought to have been the murder weapons.

Tunisian heritage

Laure Beccuau, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation, said the woman had suffered multiple stab wounds and other injuries.

The victim, a housewife of Tunisian heritage, had three children, aged three, six and nine.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "We are aware of the arrest of a British national in connection with the death of a woman whose body was found in Nimes.

"Consular officials are liaising with police dealing with the case and stand ready to offer consular assistance."

"A British man has been arrested. The matter is now being handled by police in Montpellier," a local police spokesman said.

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