Swiss Police Identify Cult Leader’s Body; Cause of Death Unknown
Swiss police confirmed Thursday that cult leader Luc Jouret was among the dead found in the Order of the Solar Temple’s fire-gutted chalet in the alpine village of Granges-sur-Salvan.
Jouret apparently perished along with 52 of his followers in last week’s grisly round of blazes, slayings, bludgeonings and unexplained deaths among members of the apocalyptic order based in Switzerland and Canada.
Swiss authorities did not say how Jouret, 46, a Belgian doctor, had died. Chief pathologist Thomas Krompecher said his body bore no trace of bullet holes.
Only one top temple official, Jean-Pierre Vinet, remains unaccounted for.
Early theories of a mass suicide have given way, under revelations from Quebec and Swiss police, to evidence of well-orchestrated execution-style slayings on both sides of the Atlantic on Oct. 4 and 5.
About 15 bodies still have to be identified as they are burned beyond recognition. Jouret was identified by his dental records.
Some of the victims were alive, possibly comatose, at the time of the electronically triggered fires. Others had been shot, some repeatedly, or beaten to death, police said.
Among the known leaders of the decade-old Order of the Solar Temple, only Vinet, often described as the cult’s financier, remains at large or as yet unidentified. The body of Joseph di Mambro, described as the behind-the-scenes “dictator” of the order, has been identified among the dead in Switzerland, along with his wife and son.
Authorities in Australia have joined those in Europe and North America looking into reports of money-laundering and arms trafficking. A Swiss newspaper, L’Hebdo, on Thursday quoted Australian banking sources describing a Jouret associate opening an account last year with a $93-million deposit.