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French cop on trial for rape at police station

A French policeman is on trial for allegedly raping a drunken woman being held at a police station while he was on duty in 2012. If this sounds familiar, that's because a separate but similar case came about earlier this year.

French cop on trial for rape at police station
A judge is weighing whether a French cop raped a woman in jail. Photo: AFP

If the allegations prove true, one woman's tale of being raped by a French police officer while in custody for public drunkeness have all the marks of a horrible abuse of power.

The 47-year-old woman, whose name wasn't released, first came into contact with police in the Parisian suburbs after stumbling around and yelling drunkenly on the night of May 16th 2012. 

She was then taken to a police station in the town of Mantes-la-Jolie at around 11pm, Le Parisien reported. Things soon took a much darker turn.

A female police officer allegedly made her take off her bra in front of male officers. And according to the victim, a policeman at the station made her write “I love you” on a piece of paper which was then passed to a single colleague.

At around 2am the woman claims the officer came into her cell and raped her twice. The assault, she says, was not carried out with threats or violence, but with her attacker's hand over her mouth to stop her from crying out.

She finally left the police station the next morning at around 4:30am and soon took an overdose of pills. After being rushed to the hospital she told doctors she had been raped, which led to the unnamed officer's arrest.

The policeman didn't deny the sex had taken place, instead he said the encounter was consensual. He claimed no one ordered her to remove her bra and insisted she later pressed his hand to her bare chest. 

By way of explaining why he had sex with a drunken prisoner at the police station, the officer said he'd done it to get revenge on a woman he was dating and whom he suspected was cheating on him.

In a highly similar case, police officers from an elite Paris police unit were charged in connection with the rape of a Canadian woman who alleges she was assaulted at police headquarters after a night of drinking. 

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CRIME

French court orders partial release for convicted Corsican nationalist

A French court on Tuesday ordered the partial release of a Corsican nationalist who has served 24 years in jail for the 1998 murder of a top French official.

French court orders partial release for convicted Corsican nationalist

Under the ruling, Pierre Alessandri will be allowed out of jail to work for a landscaping company in the daytime and will be granted a full conditional release in a year if he behaves well.

The relaxation of Alessandri’s conditions of detention came amid tensions between the Mediterranean island’s pro-autonomy leaders and the French state, after a fellow Corsican detained in the same case was killed in a French prison in March.

Alessandri and a third Corsican detainee were transferred from mainland France to a jail in Corsica in April after the murder of Yvan Colonna.

The Paris appeals court granted Alessandri “a probationary partial release” of 12 months from February 13, the prosecutor-general Remy Heitz said.

If he behaves well, he would then be granted “conditional release” for another ten years, he said.

Alessandri’s lawyer Eric Barbolosi hailed the ruling as a “great relief”.

“For the first time in a court of appeals, the magistrates made a decision based on the criteria necessary for a conditional release, not the particular nature of the case,” he said.

Alessandri had served enough time to be eligible for such a release by 2017, and had already petitioned to be freed three times.

But national anti-terror prosecutors objected, and an appeals court barred his release.

The country’s highest court then quashed one of these decisions, ordering the Paris appeals court to re-examine it.

Colonna, a former goat herder, was announced dead on March 21 after an Islamist extremist who accused him of blasphemy strangled and suffocated him in a prison in the southern town of Arles in mainland France.

He was detained in 2003 after four years on the run, and sentenced in 2007, and then again in 2011, to life in jail over the killing in 1998 of the French government prefect of Corsica, Claude Erignac.

The killing was the most shocking of a series of attacks by pro-independence militant group FLNC.

Alessandri and another nationalist, Alain Ferrandi, had already been sentenced to life in jail in 2003 over the murder.

Ferrandi, who was transferred to the same Corsican jail, has also requested to be released on parole, and a decision is due on February 23rd.

Colonna’s murder sparked violent protests in Corsica.

It galvanised the nationalist movement and led President Emmanuel Macron’s government to offer talks about giving greater political autonomy to the territory.

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