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Police investigate death of French businessman, family in Moscow


MOSCOW, April 21 (RIA Novosti) - An investigation has been launched into a suspected arson attack in Moscow that took the lives of a French businessman, his wife and their two-year-old daughter.

The blaze broke out early on Monday in two different parts of the family's apartment at 3 Tverskaya Yamskaya Street, not far from Red Square An hour later, when the fire had been extinguished, firemen discovered the charred body of French wine trader Thierry Spinelli and his 30-year-old wife Olga.

The hands of the woman were tied up, and she appeared to have been strangled. The cause of death of her husband has yet to be established, as his body was badly burned.

Their daughter, Elise, was found alive, but died soon afterwards of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Spinelli, who was a co-founder of the Chateau le Grand Vostok winery in the Krasnodar Region, had lived in Russia for more than ten years. His wife was a Russian national, while his daughter had dual Russian-French citizenship.

According to the results of a forensic examination, the apartment could have been set on fire to cover up the traces of a possible robbery and murder. Neighbors said that Spinelli's car, a black Mitsubishi Pajero, had disappeared on Sunday night.

However, the arson theory still raises a lot of questions. While firemen said the door to the apartment was open when they arrived, investigators claim the door was locked from the inside, also suggesting that Spinelli may have been involved in the death of his wife and daughter. Close friends of the family have dismissed the theory as "nonsense."

The Russian Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper suggested, citing investigators, that the successful businessman and his family could have been killed by business rivals.

Police are currently studying CCTV footage.

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