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Police in Toulouse seek four men over gang-rape posted online

French police were searching Thursday for four men seen raping a woman outside a nightclub in southern France in videos that were shared on social media.

Police in Toulouse seek four men over gang-rape posted online
French police officers work at the headquarters of the Pharos reporting platform against cyber criminality. Photo: AFP
Prosecutors in Toulouse opened an inquiry late Wednesday for gang rape after the 19-year-old victim confirmed she was the woman in at least two videos posted first to Snapchat and then Twitter, a source close to the inquiry told AFP.
   
The videos of the attack prompted a wave of outrage on Twitter, with many users claiming to know the identities of the attackers, aged 25 to 30.
   
“We need calm and discretion,” the source said when asked about the reported identifications of the men.
   
The local Depeche du Midi newspaper reported that the rape occurred overnight Saturday in a parking lot in Balma, a residential suburb east of Toulouse.
 
Local police were alerted to the attack after the videos were flagged to France's national digital surveillance cell, and were already investigating Monday when a friend of the victim told them the woman's identity.
   
The victim herself then came forward after learning the videos were circulating on social media.
   
“The way they broke me, the way they humiliated me, nothing can relieve that. But the video, which will be shared, where you see my body… It's a vulnerability I'll have to bear my entire life,” she told a local radio station Tuesday.
   
Reports say the woman told police she had a hazy memory of the incident and suspects she may have been drugged.
   
The videos were deleted by the interior ministry's Pharos programme which deletes graphic and violent internet content, and police began urging people Monday not to share the images.
   
Videos of rapes have become an increasingly common problem online due to the spread of mobile phones and social media usage, with cases in the United States, Brazil and India causing outrage in recent years.

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POLITICS

French justice minister faces trial on conflict of interest charge

France's justice minister has been ordered to stand trial in a conflict of interest case that has embarrassed President Emmanuel Macron's government, his lawyers said on Monday.

French justice minister faces trial on conflict of interest charge

His lawyers said they had immediately lodged an appeal to block the move.

Eric Dupond-Moretti, a former star defence lawyer, was last year charged with misusing his position to settle scores with opponents from his legal career, becoming the first sitting French justice minister to be charged in a legal probe.

The accusations relate to administrative inquiries into three judges. The three had ordered police in 2014 to pore through the phone records of dozens of lawyers and magistrates, including Dupond-Moretti, as part of an investigation into former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

The judiciary accused Dupond-Moretti of a witch-hunt.

He denied the allegations, saying he was merely acting on the recommendations of his staff to investigate possible mistakes by the magistrates who oversaw the seizures of the phone records.

The order to stand trial was issued by the investigation commission of the Law Court of the Republic in Paris (CJR), which hears cases of alleged wrongdoing by serving ministers.

But his lawyers, Christophe Ingrain and Remi Lorrain, said they had already appealed against the move.

“The order no longer exists,” they told reporters as they exited the CJR building.

Dupond-Moretti was not present.

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