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Fire brigade disbands display team after 'rape'

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07:49 CEST+02:00

The Paris fire brigade on Monday disbanded its elite gymnastics display team, which recently performed for the nation at the annual Bastille Day parade, following allegations that a recruit had been raped.


One squad member has been charged with rape, two with sexual assault, seven with assault and three for looking on as the recruit was allegedly molested in an initiation ritual on the team bus, Paris prosecutors said.

General Gilles Glin, commander of the Paris fire brigade, told a meeting he felt "betrayed by acts that were unacceptable and contrary to our values" and announced he was closing the display team down, his spokesman told AFP.

A male recruit has formally complained to police that he was sodomised with a bottle during an initiation ritual on board a coach bringing the gymnastics squad back from an event in eastern France on May 6th.

Another recruit is said to have been beaten on the same trip while other members of the squad, including an officer, did nothing to assist either victim. Investigators say there is cellphone footage of the incident.

The Paris fire brigade is an 8,500-strong full-time military unit, and its gymnastics team was until last week its pride and joy, travelling the country to show off dangerous and skilled acrobatic manoeuvres.

On July 14th last year the now disgraced squad took part in a spectacular finale to the Bastille Day parade in front of President Nicolas Sarkozy, ministers, visiting dignitaries and a television audience of millions.


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