Police neutralise ‘suspicious package’ left in Toulouse cathedral

The centre of the southern French city of Toulouse was cordoned off on Friday morning after a man left a 'suspicious package' at the altar of the Cathedral.

Police neutralise 'suspicious package' left in Toulouse cathedral
Illustration photo: AFP

A security cordon was set up and the public were told to avoid central Toulouse as a police operation was launched on Friday morning.

According to local newspaper La Dépêche, a man entered the cathedral during the 8am mass, put a parcel in front of the altar and then left, shouting incomprehensible words.

A priest at the Cathédrale Saint-Etienne tried to stop him as he fled. He was shoved, but not injured.

A security cordon was set up and the area around the cathedral evacuated as police dealt with the package and the incident was declared over at about 10am.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin gave a press conference later on Friday, at which he said: “This morning at around 8:30am, the congregation of the Cathedral of Saint-Etienne in Toulouse reported that an individual had placed a package in front of the altar of the Cathedral during Mass.

“According to the information we have at this stage, no claims have been made. In his escape, this individual pushed the sacristan who was not injured. The individual is being actively sought.

“The cathedral was evacuated and a security perimeter around it was immediately set up by the police, and bomb disposal teams used.

“A parcel resembling an improvised explosive device, without any ignition device, was discovered and neutralised by law enforcement.”

Early on Friday afternoon, it was announced that the man had been arrested.

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French courts drop rape case against film director Luc Besson

The Paris court of appeal on Tuesday confirmed the dropping of rape accusations against French film director Luc Besson, one of the highest profile controversies of the #MeToo era in the country.

French courts drop rape case against film director Luc Besson

Dutch-Belgian actress Sand Van Roy had accused Besson — director of the “Fifth Element” and “Leon” — of raping her over a two-year on-off relationship, and filed a complaint against him in May 2018.

Prosecutors dropped the case in February 2019 citing lack of evidence, but a new investigation was opened later that year after Van Roy brought fresh charges.

A French magistrate then closed the case in December 2021 and prosecutors asked for it to be dropped in April.

Besson had always denied the accusations, describing the case in 2019 as “a lie from A to Z”.

“The court confirmed my client’s innocence… Luc Besson regrets these four lost years,” his lawyer Thierry Marembert said after the verdict.

But Van Roy’s lawyer Antoine Gitton said an appeal would immediately be filed for his client with France’s Court of Cassation.

Besson has admitted having a relationship with Van Roy, who had minor roles in his films “Taxi 5” and “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”.

She filed the initial complaint for rape in May 2018 hours after meeting Besson, before filing another complaint two months later for other alleged rapes and sexual assaults.

At least three other women have made allegations of sexual harassment against Besson but he has always denied all the allegations.