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CRIME

Polanski to face trial in France for alleged defamation

Veteran Franco-Polish filmmaker Roman Polanski has been ordered to stand trial in France over his alleged defamation of a British actress who accused him of sexual abuse, a source close to the case said Wednesday.

Polanski to face trial in France for alleged defamation
A 2019 photo of French Polish film director Roman Polans after the preview of his last movie "J'accuse" (An Officer and a Spy). (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

The Paris court order did not specify a trial date for Polanski, 89, who was charged in October last year. He has faced a series of sex assault claims during his career.

The Paris court order did not specify a trial date for Polanski, 89, who was charged in October last year.

He has faced a series of sex assault claims during his career, though never previously has he stood trial in France over them.

The defamation case was filed by Charlotte Lewis, born in 1967, who starred in Polanski’s 1986 film “Pirates”.

In 2010, she had accused him in Los Angeles of sexual abuse at his Paris apartment in the 1980s, when she was 16.

Polanski dismissed Lewis as a “liar” and a “fabulist” in a long interview with the Paris Match magazine in 2019, pointing to quotes attributed to her in a 1999 interview with the British tabloid News of the World, expressing her desire for him.

Lewis claims the quotes were not accurate.

Polanski’s lawyer Herve Temime told AFP last October that the pressing of charges was “automatic” in defamation cases, and welcomed the prospect of trial as the way of bringing out of the truth.

The director remains wanted in the United States for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and has also faced accusations of other sexual assaults that he denies.

In 2019, French photographer Valentine Monnier accused Polanski of raping her in his Swiss chalet in 1975 when she was 18 and working as a model and actress, saying he tried to give her a pill as he beat her “into submission”.

His star has also dimmed in the wake of the MeToo movement that rocked Hollywood, and French stars including celebrated actress Adele Haenel walked out of France’s annual celebration of cinema, Les Cesars, in 2020 after Polanski was awarded for his film “An Officer and a Spy”.

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CRIME

French police bust cross-Channel people-smuggling ring

French police have busted a major people-smuggling ring that has been sending migrants to Britain in dinghies, with more than a dozen boats and 700 life jackets seized in a raid, French authorities said Thursday.

French police bust cross-Channel people-smuggling ring

The ring was run by Iraqi Kurdish migrants and had a logistics hub in Lille, a northern French city about 100 kilmetres (60 miles) from the northern Channel beaches around Calais that are used for crossings.

Three Iraqi men have been charged, along with three French suspects after their arrest on Monday.

Police discovered “a real factory supplying nautical equipment” in Lille, the head of French anti-migration agency Ocriest, Xavier Delrieu, told AFP.

In what was their biggest ever seizure of equipment, they found 13 inflatable boats, 14 outboard engines, 700 life jackets, 100 pumps and 700 litres of fuel, Delrieu said.

The group is suspected of having organised 80 Channel crossings over the summer, of which 50 succeeded, with the smugglers netting around €80,000 for each one.

The arrests came due to intelligence-sharing between authorities in Belgium, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, who are all trying to crack down on migrants crossing the Channel by boat.

The original tip-off came after a border guard control discovered a group of French youths carrying inflatables from Germany into the Netherlands.

More migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK from northern France so far this year than in the whole of 2021.

So far this year, more than 30,000 people have been detected crossing the Channel to the UK, fresh government figures showed Thursday. On Wednesday alone, the authorities detected another 667 people.

Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, has faced some criticism from other Conservatives and in right-wing media outlets for not pressing for more French action against the crossings when she met President Emmanuel Macron in New York on Tuesday.

Downing Street said the issue did not come up at their talks on the margins of the UN General Assembly, which instead focused on common ground including Ukraine and energy security.

The crossings are among a host of issues that have badly strained Franco-British relations in recent years.

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