Thief helps Paris police snare ‘Corsican gangster’

A man alleged to be one of Corsica's most notorious gangsters was behind bars on Friday after being arrested by chance thanks to a thief plying his trade on one of the poshest streets in Paris.

The 40-year-old, widely known as Rachid the Corsican, had parked his car on the Rue du Faubourg St Honore, famous for its designer boutiques and just up the road from President Francois Hollande's Elysee Palace.

Minutes after he had left the 4×4, police caught a thief trying to break into it red-handed, and what initially looked like a mundane crime took an unexpected twist when the officers discovered several guns in the vehicle.

The owner, who turned up shortly afterwards, was found to be carrying another gun and a search of his Paris flat produced more weapons, grenades, explosives and balaclavas.

The man and his partner, who runs a Corsican wine bar just off the Champs Elysees, were both detained in custody.

He has been charged with illegal possession of weapons and membership of a criminal gang, judicial sources said on Saturday.

Corsica, a spectacularly beautiful island with a population of just 300,000 people, has one of the highest murder rates in the developed world.

Last year alone there were 20 still unexplained homicides which have been linked to feuds between rival criminal clans in an underworld that is entwined with sections of the island's nationalist movement.

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