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CRIME

Six on trial over fake French driving licences ring

Six people have gone on trial accused of running a fraud ring that supplied fake French driving licences to people who had not passed the driving test.

Six on trial over fake French driving licences ring
Photo: AFP

The six, including a former driving school manager and several civil servants, are accused of supplying driving licences for up to €12,000 to people who had either never passed the driving test or who had their licences confiscated.

Their customers are said to have included Paris Saint Germain footballers and TV presenters, none of the customers are being prosecuted.

The scam was centred in the wealth Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine and two members of the scam ring have already admitted involvement in procuring between 30 and 70 driving licences. The trial begins in Nanterre on Wednesday.

The process for obtaining a licence in France is complicated and expensive and involves at least 20 hours of compulsory lessons through an approved driving school.

Data released in 2019 by the road safety organisation Prevention Routiere showed that approximately 700,000 drivers – one in every 100 drivers on the roads in France – do not have a licence.

READ ALSO Non-Europeans can now swap driving licence for a French one online 

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FRENCH POLITICS

French minister investigated after rape allegations

A junior minister in President Emmanuel Macron's government is under investigation after two allegations of rape were brought against her, French prosecutors have said.

French minister investigated after rape allegations

The allegations go back to when Chrysoula Zacharopoulou – who is now state secretary for development, Francophonie and international partnerships – worked as a gynaecologist, according to French magazine Marianne.

One complaint was lodged on May 25th and the investigation opened two days later, the prosecutors said. The second complaint was filed on June 16th.

Greece-born Zacharopoulou, 46, joined the government of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne in May, having been a member of the European Parliament for the previous three years. She reports to Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.

She gained prominence in 2015 by campaigning for greater public awareness of endometriosis together with actress Julie Gayet, who this year married former French president Francois Hollande.

Zacharopoulou was strongly involved in the UN’s COVAX coronavirus vaccine rollout effort, and has spoken out in favour of women’s reproductive rights.

These are not the first rape allegations to overshadow Macron’s government and come at a time of political difficulty for the president after he failed to retain a majority in parliamentary elections.

Prosecutors investigated Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin over an allegation for rape filed in 2017. He denied any wrongdoing and prosecutors in
January asked for the case to be dropped.

Rape allegations were also made against Solidarities minister Damien Abad last month but French prosecutors have said they were not currently opening an investigation.

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