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TERRORISM

Paris puts finishing touches on Eiffel Tower anti-terror walls

Paris is about to unveil thick bulletproof glass walls and metal fences around the Eiffel Tower, designed to protect France's most famous monument from terrorist attacks.

Paris puts finishing touches on Eiffel Tower anti-terror walls
Visitors walk on June 14th to one of the new entrance gate set around the Eiffel tower in Paris as an anti-terrorism measure. Photo: AFP
The boosted security measures, under construction since last year, come with France still on high alert after a string of jihadist attacks that have killed more than 240 people since 2015. 
   
The new walls, shown to journalists during a site tour on Thursday, are part of security measures that have cost nearly 35 million euros ($40.7 million) and are due to be finished by mid-July.
   
Glass walls measuring 6.5 centimetres (2.5 inches) thick will run along the riverside Quai Branly boulevard as well as the Avenue Gustave Eiffel which separates the tower from a park.
 
 
 
   
The walls, which are bulletproof as well as resistant to vehicle-ramming attacks, are “rock-solid for absolute security”, said Bernard Gaudillere, head of the SETE, the company which runs the Eiffel Tower.
 
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Part of a new steel fence set around the Eiffel tower in Paris. Photo: AFP    
 
The other two sides will be fenced off with metal barriers formed from curved prongs in the form of the tower itself and at 3.24 metres high, stand exactly a hundredth of the height of the “Iron Lady”.
 
Gaudillere said his team worked with police to decide how best to secure a monument which has itself repeatedly switched off its twinkling night-time lights in memory of the victims of attacks around the world.
 
'Dangerous times' 
 
Tourists visiting the site Thursday said they felt reassured by the new measures, still mindful of the horrific Islamic State attacks of November 2015 in which 130 people were killed at Paris nightspots.
   
“We live in a dangerous time. I think it's a great idea — when I see this I feel more safe,” said Edyta Poncyljusz, visiting from Warsaw.
   
David Luke, from the US state of Utah, noted with dismay that tourists are no longer free to walk under the tower as was the case last time he visited 
four years ago.
   
“But I think it's a good idea,” he said of the security walls.
 
“It's inconvenient and a little annoying, but we're used to security measures in the US — going through metal detectors just for a basketball game.”
   
Like other French tourist sites, the tower is regularly patrolled by anti-terror troops, and the forecourt underneath the iron structure has been fenced off over terrorism fears since June 2016.
   
Gaudillere acknowledged that the temporary fences were “not very aesthetically pleasing”, giving the monument the look of a building site, but promised the end result would be “infinitely nicer and more romantic”.
   
He said the building work does not appear to have dented visitor numbers, which are still expected to reach up to seven million in 2018.
 
Tourists will still be able to access the gardens and the forecourt underneath the tower for free once passing through the security fences, he 
said.
 
The walls are part of a 300-million-euro revamp of the Eiffel Tower, with most of the work due to be completed ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

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CRIME

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim’s x-ray

A Paris court on Wednesday convicted a surgeon for trying to sell an X-Ray image of a wounded arm of a woman who survived the 2015 terror attacks in the French capital.

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim's x-ray

Found guilty of violating medical secrecy, renowned orthopaedic surgeon Emmanuel Masmejean must pay the victim €5,000 or face two months in jail, judges ordered.

Masmejean, who works at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in western Paris, posted the image of a young woman’s forearm penetrated by a Kalashnikov bullet on marketplace Opensea in late 2021.

The site allows its roughly 20 million users to trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – certificates of ownership of an artwork that are stored on a “blockchain” similar to the technology used to secure cryptocurrencies.

In the file’s description, the surgeon wrote that the young woman he had operated on had “lost her boyfriend in the attack” on the Bataclan concert hall, the focus of the November 2015 gun and bomb assault in which jihadists killed 130 people.

The X-Ray image never sold for the asking price of $2,776, and was removed from Opensea after being revealed by investigative website Mediapart in January.

Masmejean claimed at a September court hearing that he had been carrying out an “experiment” by putting a “striking and historic medical image” online – while acknowledging that it had been “idiocy, a mistake, a blunder”.

The court did not find him guilty of two further charges of abuse of personal data and illegally revealing harmful personal information.

Nor was he barred from practicing as prosecutors had urged, with the lead judge saying it would be “disproportionate and inappropriate” to inflict such a “social death” on the doctor.

The victim’s lawyer Elodie Abraham complained of a “politically correct” judgement.

“It doesn’t bother anyone that there’s been such a flagrant breach of medical secrecy. It’s not a good message for doctors,” Abraham said.

Neither Masmejean, who has been suspended from his hospital job, nor the victim were present for Wednesday’s ruling.

The surgeon may yet face professional consequences after appearing before the French medical association in September, his lawyer Ivan Terel said.

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