The remains of a French history researcher kidnapped by Muslim terrorists in Lebanon in 1985 were returned Tuesday to France, where the prime minister led an emotional airport memorial ceremony.
Michel Seurat was kidnapped May 22, 1985. He was among dozens of Westerners abducted in Lebanon during the 1980s when the 1975-90 civil war was at its height.
"France does not forget the ordeal of Michel Seurat," Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said at Paris' Orly Airport, choking up with tears repeatedly as he led the tribute.
The circumstances surrounding Seurat's death were never clarified. His kidnappers, the pro-Iranian Shiite Islamic Jihad, claimed in 1986 that they had killed him in retaliation for France's extradition to Baghdad of two pro-Iranian Iraqi dissidents. But hostages who were later freed said Seurat died of either hepatitis or cancer.
Seurat's remains were accidentally found by construction workers digging at a rest stop on the road to Beirut airport in the Lebanese capital's Shiite-dominated southern suburbs. DNA tests confirmed the remains belonged to Seurat.