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CRIME

Paris mayor bans crack addicts from park after protests from local families

Crack and other drug users who had been allowed to spend days and nights in a park in northeastern Paris, causing an uproar among local residents, have been blocked from the site by Paris authorites.

Paris mayor bans crack addicts from park after protests from local families
Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who visited the Jardins d’Eole on Wednesday, pledged they would be rehoused elsewhere as they hung about outside the park, barred from entering by security agents.

The park is near the Stalingrad metro stop, where crack use has wreaked havoc for decades and bedevilled a succession of mayors trying to clean up one of the poorer corners of the capital.

Authorities decided to turn the Jardins d’Eole site over to addicts in May, allowing them to spend the night there instead of on the streets.

But this drew outrage among local residents who feared the park risked becoming a no-go zone rife with crime.

Locals protest over the park plans and the general crack-related issues in the Stalingrad areas. Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

In recent weeks, some fed-up neighbours took to launching powerful fireworks at groups of drug users, in scenes that spread on social media.

Visiting the park with local officials, Hidalgo, a Socialist who is weighing a bid for the presidency next year, said she had suggested a number of potential treatment sites to the French state, which usually oversees health and security policies.

“If these proposals are not accepted then we will assume our responsibilities and open sites complete with doctors, psychiatrists, nurses and aid groups,” she said.

Family activities will also resume in the Eole gardens, she said, including an urban farm with goats.

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CRIME

French tax agent ‘kidnapped and killed while conducting an audit’

A French tax inspector was kidnapped and killed, reportedly while carrying out a tax audit in a village in northern France on Monday evening.

French tax agent 'kidnapped and killed while conducting an audit'

The 43-year-old tax agent died on Monday night in northern France, with local media Actu Pas-de-Calais reporting that he was killed by the man whom he was auditing, who later died by suicide.

Emergency services were called to the small village of Bullecourt in the Pas-de-Calais département of northern France at around 8pm. Upon arriving they found two men dead and a woman, reported to be another employee of the tax office, tied up.

She was not believed to be seriously injured but was treated for shock. 

The public prosecutor released a statement saying that both tax agents “were carrying out an at-home audit to check the accounts” of the local man reported to be a brocanteur (antique dealer), who then “kidnapped them and tied them up.” 

“The accused then killed himself with a firearm,” according to the prosecutor’s office. 

The mayor of Bullecourt, a small village of 250 inhabitants, told AFP that he remembered the accused antique dealer as a “helpful” and “ordinary person” who had “integrated into the village.”

Gabriel Attal, the Public Accounts Minister, issued a statement on Monday evening expressing his condolences and saying that the tax agent “was simply doing his job” and that “today, he did not return.” The minister lamented that the agent was “killed while completing a tax audit.”

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