Family of Former Model Katoucha Niane Wants Death Investigated as Murder

The family of former African model Katoucha Niane asked judges Friday to investigate their suspicions she was murdered, judicial officials said.

The body of the Guinean-born former model for Yves Saint Laurent was found in the Seine River last week.

Her family filed a legal complaint with an investigating judge saying they suspect her death was a homicide, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

French police initially said an autopsy showed no signs of foul play, pointing to the possibility that the could have fallen accidentally into the river.

The 47-year-old model, known simply as Katoucha, had been missing since January. She lived in a houseboat near Paris' Alexandre III bridge, and her handbag was later found on the boat.

Katoucha was one of the first African women to attain international stardom as a model and was a vocal opponent of female genital mutilation.

The legal filing came the same day Belgian police announced that, Waris Dirie, another former model who has campaigned against genital mutilation had gone missing.

After quitting the runway, Katoucha turned to speaking out actively against female circumcision, describing her own experience at age 9 in a book, "Katoucha, In My Flesh," which was published last year.