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CRIME

Six arrested over slaying of Corsica’s top lawyer

French police investigating the October 2012 murder of Corsica's top lawyer made six arrests on Wednesday in a potential breakthrough in attempts to stem a murder wave on the idyllic Mediterranean island.

Six arrested over slaying of Corsica's top lawyer
A forensics team investigates the crime scene where the lawyer Antoine Sollacaro was shot dead inside his car in October 2012. Photo: Pascal Pochard Casabianca/AFP

Advocate Antoine Sollacaro was the most high profile victim of a spate of killings that has been linked to feuds between rival criminal gangs linked to sections of the Corsican nationalist movement.

Four of the suspects were arrested in Ajaccio, the island's capital, and two others, including a police official, were detained in Marseille on the French mainland.

Sollacaro died in an execution-style hit at a petrol station in Ajaccio on October 16th. He was one of at least 25 victims of unexplained murders on the island since the start of last year.

A former chair of the Corsican bar, the 63-year-old Sollacaro was best known for having defended Yvan Colonna, the nationalist currently serving a life sentence for the 1998 assassination of France's top official on the island, the prefect Claude Erignac.

Sollacaro's slaying prompted French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to promise an increase in the police resources dedicated to stemming violence on Corsica.

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CRIME

French police break-up fake Bordeaux wine ring

Police investigating drug-trafficking in south west France have broken up a counterfeit Bordeaux wine ring following an eight-month investigation.

French police break-up fake Bordeaux wine ring

Prosecutors said that 100 gendarmes were involved in an operation to arrest up to 20 suspects in seven départements after the fake wine scam was discovered when fake wine labels were discovered by officers investigating a drugs ring. 

During searches, a dozen vehicles and, “a large volume of wine” were seized, they added.

They estimated that several hundred thousand bottles of Spanish wine had been passed off as being from the Médoc wine region of France.

Investigations involving a dedicated police unit revealed “a large-scale fraud organised by the owner of a vineyard in the Médoc”, police said, who obtained wine via “Spanish contacts”, bottled it at night and put fake labels on the bottles.

The fake wines were then sold “by the pallet” in several areas via “a network of official and unofficial distributors made up of companies, pensioners and self-employed people”, according to prosecutors. 

Orders amounting to several thousand bottles were sent abroad, with customers believing they were buying Bordeaux chateau wines at bargain prices, prosecutors said, when the bottles really contained “low-end wines …. from remote areas”.

Three suspects, including someone described as the ‘main instigator’ appeared before an examining magistrate on Wednesday and was charged with a variety of offences linked to fraud.

A source close to the case told AFP that the counterfeiting targeted mid-range Médoc wines, which are easier to counterfeit than the grand crus. 

“If the facts are proven, we hope that the perpetrators will be heavily condemned because these practices harm the image of Bordeaux wines and the image of all those who work well and respect the rules,” reacted the Interprofessional Council of Bordeaux Wine contacted by AFP.

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