Egyptian denies murder of Chinese prostitute as Paris trial opens

PARIS (AFP) - An Egyptian man denied the rape and murder of a Chinese prostitute but admitted hitting her, as his trial got under way in Paris on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old Tarek Shaban Ziaed told the Paris court: "I hit her" but "no, I didn't kill this woman."

"Things went well between us. But at the end, I got angry with her, so I hit her and took back my money, then I left," said the suspect, speaking in hesitant French via a translator.

He is accused of raping and murdering the 56-year-old Yuan'e Hu, whose naked body was found in August 2012 in the Paris apartment she shared with other prostitutes.

He was arrested on the basis of photos taken from video surveillance footage that showed him entering the apartment in the company of the woman and leaving 30 minutes later.

The court heard how he had told police he did not know her, then admitted sexual relations with her and finally confessed to her murder.

In his testimony to police, read out in court, he said he had become enraged when he took his wallet to retrieve payment for an additional service that had gone badly.

He wrapped a bag strap around her neck and realised she was dead when she stopped moving, according to his initial testimony.

But he retracted the statement in court, saying police had hit him and threatened him with 30 years in prison to extract a confession.

His DNA was, however, found on the victim and the bag strap.

Prosecutors had said he was Egyptian - on the basis of his passport and information from consular authorities - but the accused said he was Palestinian and that the card was fake.

The verdict is expected on Friday.

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