French interior minister questioned over rape allegations

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin was questioned by judges on Monday over rape allegations that prompted outcry from women's organisations when he was appointed the country's "top cop" in July.

French interior minister questioned over rape allegations
Interior minister Gérald Darmanin. Photo: AFP

The minister's lawyers told AFP he had spoken to two investigating magistrates “at his own request” over accusations of rape, sexual harassment and abuse of trust.

A woman has accused Darmanin of raping her in 2009 after she sought his help to have a criminal record expunged while he was a legal affairs adviser with the UMP, the predecessor of France's main right-wing party, the Republicans.

“I'll help you” but “you'll have to help me as well,” Darmanin said, according to her account.

He maintains they had consensual sex, but the allegations prompted feminist groups to picket his public appearances during his first weeks as interior minister.

The case has been thrown out multiple times, but in June appeals judges in Paris ordered a new investigation after Darminin's accuser approached France's highest court.

For now, he is being questioned as a témoin assisté (material witness) rather than a suspect, but he could yet face criminal charges if judges find “serious or consistent evidence”.

He has filed his own lawsuit for defamation of character.   

“You have to realise what it means to be wrongfully accused, to have to explain to your parents what happened, because it's true that I had a young man's life,” Darmanin told a regional daily in July.

The minister's lawyers Mathias Chichportich and Pierre-Olivier Sur said that he would “continue to be at judges' disposal” for potential further questioning.

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French authorities pay extra €111m for 2024 Olympics

French authorities have announced that they will increase their contribution to the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic organising committee (Cojo) by €111 million.

French authorities pay extra €111m for 2024 Olympics

National and local government were heeding a request from Cojo, which said on November 21st that they needed to lift their budget estimate 10 per cent from €3.98 billion to €4.48bn, partly as a result of inflation.

Cojo are due to finalise the budget for running the Games at a board meeting on December 12th.

The French government has been funnelling its contribution through Solideo, the public company in charge of building projects.

Cojo is meant to be self-funding but had already received €100 million from the national government, ear-marked for the Paralympics.

National, Parisian and regional governments are all contributing but said they had not yet agreed who was paying how much.

They did say extra cash includes €71 million more for the Paralympics, €12 million for “sports equipment”, €15 million for regional “redevelopment projects” and €8 million for anti-doping.

With Cojo pressing ahead with an ambitious opening ceremony on the Seine, they said the budget for the four Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies is “up €30 million to €130 million”.

Cojo said sponsorship and ticket sales were ahead of projections.

Tony Estanguet, the Cojo president, said that inflation would be reflected in the prices of tickets for prime sessions and that the plan for free transport for the spectators, had been dropped.