Corrupt police officers ‘taking a cut’ arrested in Marseille

Twelve police officers were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of corruption in the southern French city of Marseilles, the latest in a series of cases to tarnish the image of French law enforcement.

Corrupt police officers 'taking a cut' arrested in Marseille
Photo: Flickr user .v1ctor.

The officers came from a special anti-crime squad and were being kept in custody, prosecutor Jacques Dallest said.

The 12 were arrested as part of an investigation into organised theft, extortion, violence and drugs, police spokesman Pascal Garibian said.

They are suspected of having stolen drugs and cash from dealers and taking cigarettes from illicit sellers.

"A few of them, apparently, were helping themselves and taking a cut," said Dallest, adding that the probe would gather more details of a practice that had been "spread across this service for a while."

Marseille prosecutors first opened a probe into the specialist squad at the start of the year after internal complaints.

In early September, a special committee on crime in Marseille, headed by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, looked at crime in France's second-largest city. 

The arrests are the latest in a series of incidents bringing French law enforcement under scrutiny.

In 2011, the deputy police chief of Lyon, Michel Neyret, was arrested after he was accused of accepting gifts and favours from members of the Lyon underworld.

He was charged in October 2011 with corruption, influence peddling, drug trafficking, and associating with criminals.

A former magistrate from Lyon, serving with prosecutors in Cayenne in French Guiana, was last month indicted for alleged corruption.

And in mid-September, seven Lyon police officers were accused of "passive corruption" where they allegedly traded favours with a drug-trafficking family.

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Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

A Frenchwoman and a Spaniard were killed and nine other mountaineers were injured on Friday in an ice fall in southwest Switzerland, police said following a rescue attempt involving several helicopters.

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

Police received calls at 6.20 am reporting that mountaineers had been caught up in falling seracs — columns of glacial ice formed by crevasses — on the Grand Combin, a glacial massif near the Italian border in the Wallis region.

Seven helicopters with mountain rescue experts flew to the scene, finding 17 mountaineers split among several groups.

“Two people died at the scene of the accident,” Wallis police said in a statement. They were a 40-year-old Frenchwoman and a 65-year-old man from Spain.

Nine mountaineers were airlifted to hospitals in nearby Sion and in Lausanne. Two of them are seriously injured, police said.

Other mountaineers were evacuated by helicopter.

The regional public prosecutor has opened an investigation “to determine the circumstances of this event”, the police said.

The serac fall happened at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Plateau de Dejeuner section along the Voie du Gardien ascent route.

The Grand Combin massif has three summits above 4,000 metres, the highest of which is the Combin de Grafeneire at 4,314 metres.

The police issued a note of caution about setting off on such high-altitude expeditions.

“When the zero-degree-Celsius isotherm is around 4,000 metres above sea level, it is better to be extra careful or not attempt the route if in doubt,” Wallis police said.

“The golden rule is to find out beforehand from the mountain guides about the chosen route and its current feasibility.”