French ex-soldier caught after manhunt in Dordogne

French police say that a former soldier who opened fire on officers in Dordogne has been captured after mahunt that had been ongoing since Saturday.

French ex-soldier caught after manhunt in Dordogne
Dordogne Préfet Frédéric Périssat and police commander André Pétillot. Photo: Thibault Mazar/AFP

Since Saturday night, hundreds of armed officers has been around the commune of Le Lardin-Saint-Lazare in Dordogne, searching for the 29-year-old former soldier, who is reported to be heavily armed and hiding in a forest after having fired on gendarmes.

On Monday afternoon, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said the man had been “neutralised” while Dordogne Préfet Frederic Perissat, told a press conference in Le Lardin-Saint-Lazare that the suspect was shot and wounded by police, and had been taken into custody.

They had initially been called to the village of 1,750 inhabitants, located about 30 kilometres from Sarlat, for domestic violence.

Around midnight on Saturday/Sunday, the suspect showed up at his ex-partner’s house in the village of around 1,800 residents, where he acted violently against her new boyfriend, police said.

When the police showed up after being called to the scene, the suspect allegedly fired at them before fleeing to the nearby woods.

Locals were instructed to stay indoors as the police hunt continued into Sunday and then Monday.

André Pétillot, the commander in charge of the police operation, also announced that a photo of the soldier would be distributed to facilitate his tracking “if local residents see him”. 

A source close to the investigation said the suspect had served in the army between 2011 and 2016.

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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.