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CRIME

Paris mayor bans crack addicts from park after protests from local families

Crack and other drug users who had been allowed to spend days and nights in a park in northeastern Paris, causing an uproar among local residents, have been blocked from the site by Paris authorites.

Paris mayor bans crack addicts from park after protests from local families
Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who visited the Jardins d’Eole on Wednesday, pledged they would be rehoused elsewhere as they hung about outside the park, barred from entering by security agents.

The park is near the Stalingrad metro stop, where crack use has wreaked havoc for decades and bedevilled a succession of mayors trying to clean up one of the poorer corners of the capital.

Authorities decided to turn the Jardins d’Eole site over to addicts in May, allowing them to spend the night there instead of on the streets.

But this drew outrage among local residents who feared the park risked becoming a no-go zone rife with crime.

Locals protest over the park plans and the general crack-related issues in the Stalingrad areas. Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

In recent weeks, some fed-up neighbours took to launching powerful fireworks at groups of drug users, in scenes that spread on social media.

Visiting the park with local officials, Hidalgo, a Socialist who is weighing a bid for the presidency next year, said she had suggested a number of potential treatment sites to the French state, which usually oversees health and security policies.

“If these proposals are not accepted then we will assume our responsibilities and open sites complete with doctors, psychiatrists, nurses and aid groups,” she said.

Family activities will also resume in the Eole gardens, she said, including an urban farm with goats.

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CRIME

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.

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