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CRIME

Mystery solved in French identical twins rape case

An identical French twin has pleaded guilty in a rape case that saw police detain both brothers - who have almost identical DNA - while they figured out which was the suspect.

Mystery solved in French identical twins rape case
Photo: AFP

They shared a phone, a car, clothes, a Facebook profile and lived in the same apartment in Marseille. 

But what they did not share was the urge to go out and rape young women.

But, because they have almost identical DNA, it took police months to figure out which of the twins committed the crimes.

The alleged rapist, 26-year-old Yoan Gomis, pleaded guilty to all three counts of rape, three attempted rapes and one act of sexual aggression when his trial opened on Monday .

His twin brother Elvin was also at the court in Aix-en-Provence.

Elvin had been held in custody for 10 months along with Yoan after the pair were arrested by police probing a series of sex attacks in the Marseille area between September 2012 February of the following year.

Both initially denied any wrongdoing

The victims had not able to tell the men apart in photographs police showed them, and as the pair had almost exactly the same DNA, officials decided to err on the side of caution and keep both in detention.

Yoan was eventually identified as the alleged aggressor after some victims recognised Yoan’s speech impediment, which is due to a hearing impairment which his twin did not share. Elvin was released.

The suspect later made a partial confession, admitting to attacking the women but not to sexual assault.

In court on Monday, he made a full confession, also admitting to the sexual nature of his attacks.

“I am sorry for having lied all this time,” Yoan told the court. “I was ashamed of myself, I just couldn’t admit it.”

Sentencing was due later in the week.

It is technically possible to determine differences in identical twins’ genetic code, but the process is very expensive.

CRIME

French ex-minister convicted in fake jobs scam

A French court on Thursday found former justice minister Michel Mercier guilty of embezzlement in a fake jobs scheme he ran for the benefit of family members.

French ex-minister convicted in fake jobs scam

Mercier, 75, who served under former president Nicolas Sarkozy between 2010 and 2012, claimed tens of thousands of euros for his wife and daughter for parliamentary jobs  they never carried out.

The court handed him a suspended prison sentence of three years.

Mercier gave “personal gain precedence over the public good”, the court said in its verdict, calling Mercier’s actions “serious”.

As senator, Mercier claimed 50,000 euros ($54,000 at today’s rate) in salary for his wife Joelle between 2005 and 2009, and  €37,000 for his daughter Delphine between 2012 and 2014.

During that time, Delphine Mercier was living in London and did not set foot in the French Senate, but her father claimed she was acting as his “cultural advisor”.

Neither Mercier nor his daughter were able to provide any proof of actual work done.

Joelle Mercier, meanwhile, claimed during the trial that she had served as her husband’s representative at village fairs and funerals.

She was found guilty of conspiracy to embezzle public funds and of receiving stolen money and sentenced to a suspended prison term of 18 months and a €40,000 fine.

The court handed the daughter a 12-month suspended sentence and a fine of €10,000.

Prosecutors had asked for the ex-minister to serve one year behind bars, accusing him of “creating smoke screens” in his defence and seeking to mislead the court.

Mercier had based part of his defence on his rural roots, pitting his “common sense” against the “Parisians” of the national financial crimes unit PNF.

Several French politicians have been convicted for similar offences committed before France in 2017 banned National Assembly deputies and senators from employing family members.

The move came in reaction to a public outcry over a high-profile case involving former right-wing prime minister Francois Fillon, who was found guilty of providing a fake parliamentary assistant job to his wife that saw her paid hundreds of thousands of euros in public funds.

The “Penelopegate” scandal, revealed in a media report while he was the front-runner in the 2017 presidential race, torpedoed  his political career and cleared a path for then-relatively unknown Emmanuel Macron.

Last year, a court trimmed Fillon’s sentence to four years in prison with three suspended — down from five years with three suspended when he was first found guilty in 2020.

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