British billionaire Hans Kristian Rausing charged in wife's non-burial

Eva Rausing and her husband Hans Kristian Rausing are seen Nov. 26, 1996, at Winfield House, the London residence of the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.
AP Photo/The Picture Library Ltd

(AP) LONDON - British police say Hans Kristian Rausing, an heir to a packaging fortune, has been charged with preventing the lawful and decent burial of his wife Eva, whose body was found last week in the couple's London home.

Eva Rausing's body was found July 9 after her husband was arrested on suspicion of drug possession.

Police said Tuesday night that Hans Kristian Rausing, 49, had been charged with "preventing the lawful and decent burial of the body of Eva Rausing on or before" the date of his arrest.

Hans Kristian Rausing, whose father made billions selling his stake in the Tetra Pak drinks-carton empire, will appear in custody at West London Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, police added.

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Meanwhile, the family of Eva Rausing says she had returned to the British capital to try and persuade her husband to join her in drug treatment in the U.S.

While an official cause of death is pending the results of more tests after an initial autopsy was inconclusive, Eva Rausing's struggles with drugs were well known after she was caught trying to smuggle crack cocaine and heroin into the U.S. Embassy in London in her handbag.

In a family statement released through a public relations firm Tuesday, Eva Rausing's father, Tom Kemeny, paid tribute to his "beautiful, generous, and fun daughter" while noting the lengthy battle she and her husband fought with addiction.

"Eva and Hans Kristian were a devoted and loving couple for the 21 years they spent together," Kemeny wrote. "They bravely battled their demons and supported each other."

He wrote that the family believes Eva Rausing started experimenting with drugs "in her late teens to overcome her shyness" which he said went on to affect her studies at college and later led to many stays in drug rehabilitation programs in the U.S. and the U.K.

Kemeny said he hopes his daughter's tragic death will raise awareness about addiction and generate financial support for its treatment.

"Eva would have wanted the memory of her life to be used to benefit others facing similar addiction challenges in their lives," the statement said, adding that the family plans to launch a foundation in due course.

Kemeny stressed his daughter's dedication to philanthropy and charities fighting addiction, and said that "even in the depths of her despair" she put others first.

"At the time of her death her over-riding concern was for the safety of her beloved husband, for whom she interrupted her own treatment to return to London in an attempt to take him back with her to California, but tragically to no avail."

Hans Kristian Rausing remains under arrest but is receiving medical treatment and has not yet been questioned by detectives.

In the statement, Kemeny called Hans Kristian Rausing a "son," whom "we love unconditionally with all our hearts."