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CRIME

Million-euro ruby heist ‘close to being solved’

A heist involving a €1 million ruby and a stolen cheque from the French BNP-Parisbas bank is finally close to being solved by police after a man turned himself in, claiming he was part of the gang implied.

Moussa S, as the French press are calling him, 23, managed to avoid being arrested at the end of July by hiding at his parents’ house.

But he finally gave himself up this week, charged with fraud in an organised gang, and helped complete the bigger picture for police.

Moussa S is suspected of having supplied a stolen cheque for €1 million to one Fabrice B, who used the money to buy a rare Burmese ruby of more than five carats in June last year.

The police were alerted a few days after the purchase, when the man from whom the cheque was stolen realised a large, unauthorised sum had gone missing from his account.

Fabrice B, who was living in the third arrondissement of Paris at the time, was quickly identified but could not be tracked down – he had disappeared along with the ruby.

He was eventually arrested and questioned, when he put police onto Moussa S.

But the ruby was never found.

“The supplier of this cheque, who also went by the name of Moise, has indicated that it was given to him by someone called Mac,” a source close to the affair told Le Parisien.

“He claims he did not receive any commission for selling the cheque.”

The plot thickened when police discovered the cheque used to buy the ruby one of 600 that had been stolen from BNP-Parisbas in November 2010.

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POLITICS

French minister apologises for Champions League chaos

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Tuesday made a partial apology for chaos at last month's Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Paris, while insisting fake tickets and "delinquency" were mostly to blame.

French minister apologises for Champions League chaos

“Should things have been managed better at the Stade de France (stadium)? The answer is yes. Am I partly responsible? The answer is yes,” Darmanin told RTL radio.

“Of course, I readily apologise towards everyone who suffered from this bad management of the event,” he added.

After scenes of fans crowded into tight spaces and being tear-gassed by police caused outrage around Europe, Darmanin poured fuel on the fire by blaming supporters with fake tickets for the disruption.

UEFA events director Martin Kallen last week told French senators investigating the fiasco that the football body’s count of fake tickets was far short of the tens of thousands claimed by French authorities.

“We don’t believe it’s the number mentioned in France,” he said, adding that 2,600 fake tickets were identified at turnstiles — compared with the number of 30,000 to 40,000 people with fake tickets and without tickets suggested by Darmanin.

“It was a question of fake tickets… that created the difficulties we all know about” of large crowds of fans packed into underpasses or outside locked gates, Darmanin insisted Tuesday.

He added that “if there was something that went wrong at the Stade de France, it was the fight against delinquency”, saying he had already ordered a reorganisation of policing around the venue and that three major matches since had passed without incident.

While some supporters did report being victims of crime by gangs of youths before and after the match, there were also many complaints about police treatment of fans.

Disabled Liverpool fans last week told the Senate how officers sprayed tear gas at people in wheelchairs.

The English supporters have reacted with particular fury to Darmanin’s defence of the French police’s actions.

“People’s memories will forever be tarred by the lack of organisation and heavy-handed policing, and then of course the way authorities tried to deflect blame and scapegoat Liverpool fans for their incompetence,” Liverpool mayor Steve Rotheram told AFP earlier this month.

CCTV footage from around the stadium has also been deleted despite the Senate probe.

A government report published earlier this month said a “chain of failures” by French authorities has inflicted “severe damage” on the image of the country as it prepares to host the Olympic Games in 2024.

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