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CRIME

Man held for theft of rocket launchers from French train

French police have charged a 23-year-old man in southern France for allegedly stealing army rocket launchers and a stock of armour-piercing shells off a freight train, a source close to the case said Saturday.

Man held for theft of rocket launchers from French train
The train was travelling from this military ammunition camp in Miramas when the weapons were stolen. File photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP
The theft happened at the end of June as the train travelled between an army logistics base in Miramas near Marseille and another base in Brienne-le-Chateau, 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of Paris, the source said.
 
 
Investigators found that the weapons were inside cases that were “neither sealed nor secured”.
 
Four rocket launchers and four cases of armour-piercing shells were taken, the French daily Le Parisien reported.
 
Authorities quickly identified the alleged perpetrator, a habitual freight train thief who was arrested at his home in Miramas, where the stolen weapons were also found.
 
Investigators are trying to determine whether the man just happened upon the artillery or if he specifically trying to get his hands on such weapons.
 
The defence ministry has launched an internal probe into “the conditions of the transport of munitions by freight rail” and will “propose measures… to reinforce their security,” a government source said.
 
 
This is not the first time a large quantity of army weapons has been stolen in France.
 
In July 2015, thieves broke into the Miramas base and stole at least 150 detonators and a stock of plastic explosives.
 
In September 2016, cases containing handgun components were stolen from the Istres military base in southeast France. Four people, including a master corporal, were charged with the theft.

CRIME

French courts drop rape case against film director Luc Besson

The Paris court of appeal on Tuesday confirmed the dropping of rape accusations against French film director Luc Besson, one of the highest profile controversies of the #MeToo era in the country.

French courts drop rape case against film director Luc Besson

Dutch-Belgian actress Sand Van Roy had accused Besson — director of the “Fifth Element” and “Leon” — of raping her over a two-year on-off relationship, and filed a complaint against him in May 2018.

Prosecutors dropped the case in February 2019 citing lack of evidence, but a new investigation was opened later that year after Van Roy brought fresh charges.

A French magistrate then closed the case in December 2021 and prosecutors asked for it to be dropped in April.

Besson had always denied the accusations, describing the case in 2019 as “a lie from A to Z”.

“The court confirmed my client’s innocence… Luc Besson regrets these four lost years,” his lawyer Thierry Marembert said after the verdict.

But Van Roy’s lawyer Antoine Gitton said an appeal would immediately be filed for his client with France’s Court of Cassation.

Besson has admitted having a relationship with Van Roy, who had minor roles in his films “Taxi 5” and “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”.

She filed the initial complaint for rape in May 2018 hours after meeting Besson, before filing another complaint two months later for other alleged rapes and sexual assaults.

At least three other women have made allegations of sexual harassment against Besson but he has always denied all the allegations.

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