Man behind French ‘heist of century’ hangs self

Marc Armando, the suspected mastermind behind one of France's most spectacular bank heists two decades ago, has committed suicide in prison, sources close to the investigation said Saturday.

Man behind French 'heist of century' hangs self
Toulon. Photo: styeb

Armando, 56, was sentenced to 18 years in jail for his role in the 1992 robbery of the Bank of France in Toulon when raiders got away with 146 million francs (€22 million today), only around a tenth of which was ever recovered.

In April, he was arrested in the Netherlands under a European arrest warrant in connection with drug trafficking and was handed over to French authorities on Friday.

Armando was found hanged in his cell within hours of arriving at a detention centre in Marseille on Friday evening, sources said.

An investigation into the death is under way.

Armando was thought to have been the brains behind the Toulon bank robbery, known as "the heist of the century" in France.

He was due to appear before magistrates on Saturday in connection with a large seizure of cocaine in the port of Rotterdam. The illegal cargo was allegedly attached to a petrol tanker. 

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How France plans to prevents youngsters accessing online pornography

France is set to announce new measures this week to prevent youngsters from accessing porn websites, in the latest round of a years-long struggle to protect children from explicit material.

How France plans to prevents youngsters accessing online pornography

“I plan to put an end to this scandal,” Digital Affairs Minister Jean-Noel Barrot told the Parisien newspaper on Monday.

France’s data protection and media regulators Cnil and Arcom are set to announce their latest proposals to rein in porn websites which are in theory subject to a 2020 law requiring age verification.

Previous attempts have been held up by privacy and technical concerns, as well as court action by the websites.

To its frustration last September, a Paris court ordered Arcom to enter into mediation with several porn websites including market leader Pornhub, holding up efforts to block them.

READ MORE: France hits Google and Facebook with huge fines over ‘cookies’

Under the new proposal, people wanting to access explicit material will need to download a phone application that provides them with a digital certificate and code, the Parisien reported.

The code will be needed to access a porn website under a system “which will work a bit like the checks from your bank when you buy something online,” Barrot told the newspaper.

“2023 will mark the end of our children accessing pornographic sites,” he added.

President Emmanuel Macron, who is married to former school teacher Brigitte Macron, promised to make protecting children from porn a priority during his bid for re-election last year.

In November, he launched the Children Online Protection Laboratory, an initiative that aims to bring together industry giants and researchers to look for ways to shield minors online.

In September last year, a report entitled “Hell Behind the Scenes” by French senators concluded that there was “massive, ordinary and toxic” viewing of porn by children.

The report found that two thirds of children aged 15 or less had seen pornographic content.

The French production industry has been roiled by a series of sexual assault cases in recent years in which women have come forward to allege rape, mistreatment and manipulation by directors and fellow actors.