Susanna Zetterberg's father and brother leave court.

Paris -

The trial opened in Paris on Tuesday of an illegal taxi driver and convicted rapist alleged to have kidnapped and brutally murdered a Swedish student after picking her up outside a Paris nightclub.

The 2008 murder of Susanna Zetterberg, a 19-year-old from Stockholm studying French and working part-time in a cafe in the French capital, caused widespread shock and disgust in France and Sweden after her partially burnt body was discovered near Paris.

Bruno Cholet, 55, denies the kidnapping and murder charges, claiming police fabricated the evidence against him. He faces spending the rest of his life in prison if convicted in the trial, which is scheduled to run until September 14.

Cholet, an overweight man wearing thick glasses, was impassive as Judge Xaviere Simeoni asked him to give his name and address at the opening of the trial. He mumbled some answers and at one point appeared confused about the proceedings.

The trial was suspended immediately after jury selection when Cholet said he was feeling unwell. It was unclear when it would resume.

Zetterberg's mother, father and brother were seated in the front row, surrounded by their lawyers and a Swedish interpreter. They said nothing to journalists as they entered the court.

Zetterberg was last seen leaving a nightclub and entering a taxi in central Paris at around 4:45 am on Saturday April 19, 2008.

Later the same day her partially burnt body was discovered in the Chantilly forest, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Paris. She had been shot at least four times in the head and had her hands tied behind her back with a brand of handcuffs sold in sex shops.

The state of her body made it impossible to establish if she had suffered a sexual assault.

Traced though files on unlicensed cab drivers and images of a man seen using Zetterberg's bank cards following the murder, Cholet was arrested six days after her killing.

Shortly after his arrest, a pistol, bullets, rubber gloves and handcuffs were found in Cholet's car, some of the material containing traces of Zetterberg's DNA, according to the prosecution case.

Police also reported the discovery in the car of a plastic bag with the victim's name written incorrectly as “Susana 377” on it in felt pen.

As well as having been charged five times for operating an illegal cab, the accused has a string of serious convictions, including three for rape and one for armed robbery. - Sapa-AFP