Hostages freed after stand-off in bank in Le Havre

A gunman who took six hostages in a bank in the northern French port city of Le Havre gave himself up to police, officials said late on Thursday night.

Hostages freed after stand-off in bank in Le Havre
Photo: AFP

“The hostages have been freed, safe and sound,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said, hours after an elite RAID police unit had been deployed.

The gunman, aged 34, had entered the premises at 4.45pm, a police official told AFP.

The man had a history of psychiatric problems and had been in trouble previously for kidnapping and firearms offences, a source close to the case said.

Former prime minister Edouard Philippe, who is now mayor of Le Havre, gave heartfelt thanks on behalf of the town to the police for bringing the situation to a close.

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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.