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CRIME

Paris to deploy 5,000 police every day this summer to protect tourists

Five thousand police officers will be on duty every day this summer in Paris to help tourists and protect them from the plague of pickpockets and scam artists who prey on foreign visitors.

Paris to deploy 5,000 police every day this summer to protect tourists
A police car at the Sacre-Cœur Basilica in Montmartre, one of the many tourist sites in Paris where security has been beefed up for the summer tourist season. Photo: AFP

“We are doing everything we can to make sure that tourists are secure in a safe and peaceful city without transforming the city into a bunker,” said Paris police chief Michel Delpuech as he visited police on duty around the Louvre museum.

The Louvre is one of seven sites in the French capital that will be getting special police attention this summer.

The others are Montmartre, the Champs-Elysées, the area around Trocadéro and the Eiffel tower, the Latin Quarter, Châtelet and Opéra.

Paris welcomed 18 million tourists last year and the number is set to be even bigger in 2018. Trying to keep them safe is a major undertaking, and this summer the 5,000 officers have been deployed for the peak season, from June 11 till September 30.

“Ninety percent of thefts that tourists suffer are from bag snatchers or street sellers, card sharks or people with fake petitions,” Frédéric Dupuch, a senior Paris security official, told Le Parisien newspaper.

Figures given to The Local from the ministry of interior revealed there were 134,000 non-violent thefts in Paris last year which would include pickpocketing, bag and mobile phone snatches. Although it is not clear how many of thieves thefts were against tourists nor where in Paris they took place.

READ ALSO: 14 simple ways to avoid the Paris pickpockets and petty thieves

 

Tourists at the Trocadero area overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Photo: AFP

Police stats from the summer season last year said that between mid-June and mid-September, 1,887 street sellers of mini-Eiffel towers and other trinkets were arrested, and 703 bag or phone snatches were recorded in the seven major tourist zones of the city.

Since the extra police deployment began this year on June 11, 24 people have been arrested for scams such as fake petitions or three-card tricks, 333 people have been arrested for illegally selling goods on the street, and 748 kilos of goods have been seized – mostly mini-Eiffel towers and metal love-locks that tourists attach to Paris bridges.

Victims of anti-tourist crimes can now use a multilingual form in police stations to lodge their complaints.

And bilingual police officers have been deployed on the streets, backed up by French students of foreign languages, to help distressed tourists.

READ ALSO: Where in France are you most likely to be the victim of a crime?

Map: Where in France you are most likely to be a victim of crime
 

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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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