Coronavirus: robbery suspects tried in France for false police checks


A municipal police officer checks a passerby for his certificate while they monitor the movements of people in Montpellier, March 25, 2020

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People in France may be required to produce a certificate stating the reason for their absence

Four suspected fraudsters are on trial in France, accused of having carried out false police checks on people’s exit permits during the lockout.

The woman and three men reportedly presented themselves as officers and robbed the victims after asking them to produce the official form that the people were to take away from home.

They are believed to have stolen € 25,000 (£ 22,000; $ 27,000).

The four men, all of whom are Iranian nationals, are on trial as France prepares to ease its restrictions.

As of March 17, people across the country are only allowed to leave their homes to go to work, shop, exercise, seek care, or run urgent family affairs.

During their outing, they must have a certificate stating the reason for their trip.

Police said the gang pretended to be police and approached people wearing face masks. After asking to see their victims’ forms, they allegedly searched the bags and took any money or valuables they could find.

In an interview with France Info radio, police commissioner Nathan Bauer said that the suspects “did not speak French very well” and were targeting foreigners.

He added that the police had identified seven victims and that € 12,000 had been stolen from one of them.

The four are to be tried in the town of Meaux, east of Paris.

The coronavirus epidemic has been linked to around 25,000 deaths in France. But with the decline in the number of new deaths and new cases, the government has announced plans to lift restrictions from May 11.

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