Sarkozy ‘touched’ by family’s plight and vows to aid search for answers

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FRENCH president Nicolas Sarkozy has instructed his officials to look into the case of an Ettrick Valley man, found dead in a lane in France a year ago.

Andrew Watt , 31, who suffered from a degree of paranoid schizophrenia, was discovered outside the village of Vimarce, near Laval in the Pays de la Loire region, where he was living with his French girlfriend.

Andrew’s parents, brothers and sisters have suffered more heartache as they struggle to get answers from the French authorities.

Andrew’s body was eventually released in December, but it was discovered his brain and heart were missing.

These were only returned to the family five weeks after the burial. A British pathologist later found that one of Andrew’s lungs, part of his liver, throat, tongue and scalp had not been returned with his body.

And the family is still waiting for an explanation despite complaining to the French authorities, the involvement of MP Michael Moore and contact with the British Embassy in Paris.

Andrew’s mum, Julie Sheppard, wrote to Mr Sarkozy, not really expecting a reply.

But she told TheSouthern: “I got a letter from his office just recently, saying that President Sarkozy had been very touched by what I had written.

“It says the president has instructed a member of his cabinet office to pass all the details on to his justice minister to investigate.

“And I got a second letter from his office just the other day – so we are hopeful that at last, we might be on the verge of getting some answers.”

Andrew’s family is trying to establish a trust fund to raise money to let them continue the fight for the truth behind his death, as well as campaigning to make the public aware of the different way mental health problems and deaths abroad are treated, and to raise the profile of mental health issues such as paranoid schizophrenia.

Andrew’s family had an emotional meeting at the studios of ITV Border with the family of Christopher Rochester for a programme looking at the similarities between the deaths.Christopher, 24, from Chester-le-Street in County Durham, died in 2000 after falling from a balcony on the Greek island of Rhodes and his body was returned missing a kidney.

Julie told us: “I was quite apprehensive and nervous about the meeting, but it was good to talk and I think it proved quite beneficial to both sides, as we knew what each other’s family had been going through. France and Greece are both members of the European Union, but they both just seem to be flouting the laws when it comes to deaths abroad and the withholding of organs.”

z Earlier this year Andrew Watt’s family staged a charity walk along Hadrian’s Wall, raising £2,400 for the Penumbra youth project in Galashiels to help young people deal with mental health issues.