France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin was questioned Monday by judges over allegations of rape that sparked outcry from women’s organizations when he was named the country’s “best cop” in July.
Lawyers for the right-winger told AFP he spoke to two investigating judges “at his own request” on charges of rape, sexual harassment and breach of trust.
Darmanin has been the subject of protests against the centrist government of President Emmanuel Macron in recent weeks, as the government introduced a bill that could criminalize the sharing of police footage – even as video footage revealed officers beating a black music producer and violently expelling migrants from the central square in Paris.
A woman accused Darmanin of raping her in 2009 after asking for his help in clearing a criminal record while he was legal adviser to the UMP, the predecessor of France’s main right-wing party, the Republicans.
“I will help you” but “you will also have to help me”, said Darmanin, according to his account.
He claims they had consensual sex, but the allegations prompted feminist groups to pick up on his public appearances during her first weeks as Home Secretary.
The case has been dismissed several times, but in June, Paris appeals judges ordered a new investigation after Darminin’s accuser approached France’s highest court.
For now, he is being questioned as a witness rather than a suspect, but he could still face criminal charges if the judges find “serious or consistent evidence”.
He filed his own character defamation lawsuit.
“You have to understand what it means to be wrongly accused, to have to explain to your parents what happened, because it is true that I had the life of a young man”, declared Darmanin to a regional daily. in July.
Lawyers for Minister Mathias Chichportich and Pierre-Olivier Sur said he would “continue to be available to judges” for further interrogation.
© 2020 AFP