Policeman found dead in garden of French prime minister’s residence

The body of a French gendarme was found on Monday morning in the gardens of the official residence of the French prime minister in Paris, according to reports. It is believed he committed suicide.

Policeman found dead in garden of French prime minister's residence
A general view of the Hotel Matignon in Paris from its gardens. Photo: AFP

The body was found at around 9.30 am on Monday morning in the gardens of Hotel Matignon – the French prime minister's official residence – with the officer said to have been in uniform, according to reports in the French press

Early reports suggest the policeman used his own weapon to carry out the suicide. 

It is believed the officer, who belonged to the French Republican Guard and was part of the team charged with protecting prime minister Edouard Philippe, was 45-years-old and a father. 

“The body of a Republican Guard was discovered this morning in the grounds of the Hôtel de Matigon, his service weapon at his side,” the prime minister's office said in a statement, adding that he had been assigned to the video surveillance services.


French government forced to act after new wave of police suicides

An inquiry into the circumstances of his death has been launched and will be carried out by French police body the IGGN (Inspection générale de la Gendarmerie nationale).

Last August an open letter was published in the French press that complained about worsening working conditions for gendarmes tasked with protecting the prime minister, in part due to the increased terror threat in France.

The French Republican Guard is part of the French Gendarmerie and is responsible for providing guards of honor for the State and security in the Paris area.

The suicide among French police officers is 36 percent higher than the rest of the population, with the devastatingly high rate partly put down to the stresses of the work.

In November 2017, eight French officers including a high-profile former police chief committed suicide in just one week, sparking renewed concern among the forces of law and order and the government.

As part of the government's measures seven extra psychologists were to be recruited for the police forces most in need. More psychologists were also to be recruited in police training schools.
Police officers were to get individual lockers where they can leave their weapon after work in an attempt at stopping officers committing suicide using their service firearms in their own homes. 

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Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

A Frenchwoman and a Spaniard were killed and nine other mountaineers were injured on Friday in an ice fall in southwest Switzerland, police said following a rescue attempt involving several helicopters.

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

Police received calls at 6.20 am reporting that mountaineers had been caught up in falling seracs — columns of glacial ice formed by crevasses — on the Grand Combin, a glacial massif near the Italian border in the Wallis region.

Seven helicopters with mountain rescue experts flew to the scene, finding 17 mountaineers split among several groups.

“Two people died at the scene of the accident,” Wallis police said in a statement. They were a 40-year-old Frenchwoman and a 65-year-old man from Spain.

Nine mountaineers were airlifted to hospitals in nearby Sion and in Lausanne. Two of them are seriously injured, police said.

Other mountaineers were evacuated by helicopter.

The regional public prosecutor has opened an investigation “to determine the circumstances of this event”, the police said.

The serac fall happened at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Plateau de Dejeuner section along the Voie du Gardien ascent route.

The Grand Combin massif has three summits above 4,000 metres, the highest of which is the Combin de Grafeneire at 4,314 metres.

The police issued a note of caution about setting off on such high-altitude expeditions.

“When the zero-degree-Celsius isotherm is around 4,000 metres above sea level, it is better to be extra careful or not attempt the route if in doubt,” Wallis police said.

“The golden rule is to find out beforehand from the mountain guides about the chosen route and its current feasibility.”