Madagascar court sentences two for French couple's murders

Funeral service employees carry coffins of Gerald Fontaine and Johanna Delahaye, on May 5, 2012, murdered in Madagascar (AFP Photo/Christian Eletufe) (AFP/File)

Tuléar (Madagascar) (AFP) - Two Madagascans were sentenced to hard labour for life Monday over the murder of a French couple whose bodies were discovered badly mutilated in 2012.

The criminal court found the two guilty in the killings of husband and wife Gerald Fontaine, 41, and pregnant 31-year-old Johanna Delahaye, who owned a restaurant in southwestern Madagascar.

The couple had gone by quad bike to a beach to swim but one of the lawyers for their families said Delahaye's body was later found "almost decapitated" while her husband had "cut limbs".

Fontaine's remains were found nine days later, some 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the coastal town of Tulear, while his wife's body was discovered closer to the beach after a three-day search.

In sentencing Victorien Lahiniriko and Regis Alain to hard labour for life, the criminal court in the town followed the call of prosecutors.

Eight others who had been suspected of complicity to murder were acquitted.

On Friday, a Madagascar court also handed four men the sentence of hard labour for life over the mob lynching in 2013 of two Europeans and a local man, who were beaten and then burned on a beach.

Those murders were committed by a mob acting on false rumours of foreign involvement in the death of an eight-year-old local boy and a paedophilia connection.