Image: Jean-Bedel Bokassa poses with family members at the Hardricourt castle in 1984
Joel Robine  /  AFP - Getty Images file
Central Africa Republic's late Emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa poses with family members at the Hardricourt castle, near Paris, in this picture taken on Sept. 12, 1984 . The Paris' suburban castle own by Bokassa, who died in 1996, is to be auctionned on Jan. 12.
updated 1/11/2011 5:56:59 PM ET 2011-01-11T22:56:59

Auctioneers on Wednesday plan to sell a dilapidated chateau outside Paris that once belonged to one of Africa's most ruthless dictators, the late Jean-Bedel Bokassa of Central African Republic.

Bids at the courthouse in Versailles will start at euro735,000 ($950,000), although a higher final sale price is expected.

Pascal Koerfer, lawyer for the administrator of the Bokassa estate, said the chateau — chateau d'Hardricourt — needs major work.

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"Electricity, water, heating — all need to be overhauled," he told the AP.

The chateau, in the western Paris suburb of Hardricourt, comes with a vast tree-filled park, a house for a caretaker and a double garage.

An online listing for the auction described the chateau as "inhabited," though the lawyer said it is now empty after several of Bokassa's family members moved out. The lawyer added the heirs were selling the chateau voluntarily.

Bokassa was ousted in a French-backed coup in 1979 after a bizarre 13-year rule that included proclaiming himself Emperor Bokassa I.

He was accused of killing and eating those who dared criticize him. His purported crimes included the 1979 massacre of 100 children who complained about school uniforms they were required to buy from his factory.

After seven years in exile in Ivory Coast and France, Bokassa returned to Central African Republic in 1987 expecting a warm welcome. Instead, he became the first deposed African chief of state to be publicly tried on charges of murder, torture and cannibalism.

Bokassa was acquitted of the cannibalism charges, but convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to 20 years in prison, and he was freed in September 1993.

Bokassa died three years later.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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