French comedian faces manslaughter charge over car crash

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French comedian faces manslaughter charge over car crash
French actor Pierre Palmade. Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

A French comedian faces a manslaughter charge after causing a head-on collision while high on cocaine that injured two people and led a pregnant woman to lose her baby.


Over the weekend it was also revealed that he faces a second investigation into possession of child abuse images. His Paris home was searched by police on Sunday. 

Pierre Palmade injured the man and his six-year-old son, as well as his six-month pregnant sister-in-law, in the car crash on Friday last week outside Paris.

The magistrate told AFP the comedian was being investigated for both manslaughter and causing unintentional injuries.


A miscarried foetus is not considered a person under French law, but if investigators can prove the infant was born and breathed outside the womb before dying, the popular 54-year-old comedian could be charged with manslaughter.

"The autopsy could not establish whether the child was born alive. A further expert assessment has been ordered on the matter," prosecutor Jean-Michel Bourles said.

Palmade spent 48 hours in police custody before a judge on Friday ordered his release.

He was however to remain at "a hospital addiction centre, under electronic surveillance" with a tracking bracelet, Bourles said.

The comedian "admitted to having taken cocaine and synthetic drugs before driving" but "said he had no precise recollection of the circumstances of the accident," the prosecutor said.

Two men who were in the car with Palmade at the time - a 33-year-old Moroccan and 34-year-old Frenchman - faced possible charges of failure to assist someone in danger after fleeing the scene of the crash.

The Moroccan man's lawyer, Nathalie Fonteneau, has however argued her client was asleep at the time and a "victim himself".

Reports of the crash in the village of Villiers-en-Biere, 40 kilometres south of Paris, and the ensuing police investigation have dominated French media all week.

Both the injured man and his son were still in intensive care on Friday, the prosecutor said.

The lawyer of the woman who lost her baby said on Wednesday that her client was "devastated".

Palmade was previously found guilty of taking cocaine in 1995 and arrested again for a drugs offence in 2019.


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