The theory of abduction has taken precedence over running away, with the announcement on Sunday of the opening of an investigation for, "abduction and sequestration of a minor," after the disappearance of Antoine, aged six and a half, from his mother's home in Issoire (Puy-de-Dome)"The more time passes, the more the idea of running away is losing consistency and I am not very optimistic," stated Jean-Yves Coquillat, prosecutor of the Republic for Clermont-Ferrand, during a press conference at the Clermont-Ferrand courthouse.
"There are some things that I can tell you and others which I cannot tell you because this is a very difficult investigation, (and) I cannot take the risk of compromising it," the magistrate added in a serious voice.
Aged 23, Antoine's mother told the investigators that she went out for dinner at a restaurant with her new partner, on Thursday evening at around 8pm. On their return, at around 9.15pm, they discovered the child's disappearance.
No trace of tampering had been found in the apartment situated on the first floor of an old building in the centre of Issoire, giving credence to, in the first instance, the idea that the little boy, described as, "very resourceful," and "assertive," had run away.
Especially as, according to his mother, Antoine had allegedly taken a few biscuits in his sports bag.
Waitress in an Issoire bar-restaurant, the young woman was interviewed twice by the investigators and stuck to her statements, according to the prosecutor.
According to her, Antoine, who had returned to school on September 2nd, didn't go back from the following day, because he was suffering from gastro-enteritis.
But since that date, there is not, "one credible witness statement from anyone reportedly having seen the child," M. Coquillat stressed.
The child, "was not seen by doctors. There isn't a medical certificate," was further noted by the magistrate, for whom , "nothing corroborates," the mother's version, she herself being on sick leave for an unspecified reason.
In addition, the young woman never, "responded to calls from the school's head teacher who was worried by the child's absence," the prosecutor added, regretting that the latter had not informed the gendarmerie.
Like her new partner, aged 29, Antoine's mother is, "known to police services." In 2003, she was sentenced by the Clermont-Ferrand magistrates court to 18 months in prison, of which 12 months was suspended, for trafficking in narcotics, according to the prosecutor.
On Sunday morning, thirty police officers were still combing the area around the child's home with the "hope of finding him alive."
"We started checking places we had already been, especially the sheds," lieutenant-colonel Pascal Palayer, communications officer for the Auvergne regional Gendarmerie, explained to AFP.
Little Antoine's description.
Antoine is 1.10m tall, weighs 19kg, has chestnut hair and pierced ears. At the time of his disappearance, he was wearing blue fatigue-type trousers, a white T-shirt, a light blue sweater, a brown jacket and red, black and silver Nike shoes.
Editor's note: the date given by Antoine's mother for his disappearance is Thursday September 11th.