Prosecutors want rape case dropped against French Interior Minister

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin delivers a speech.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin delivers a speech. The French Interior Minister was accused of rape in 2017, but prosecutors want the case dropped. (Photo by Daniel Cole / AFP)
French prosecutors said on Thursday they have asked for a rape case against Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin to be dropped, almost five years after his accuser first came forward.

In 2017, a woman accused Darmanin, a right-wing stalwart of President Emmanuel Macron’s government, of rape, sexual harassment and abuse of power dating back to 2009.

She says he raped her after she sought his help to have a criminal record expunged while he was a legal affairs adviser with the UMP, the predecessor of France’s main right-wing party, the Republicans.

Ordered by an appeals court to reopen the case in 2020 after dropping it a first time in 2018, Paris prosecutors interviewed Darmanin alongside the woman for nine hours in March last year.

But he was questioned as a witness, not as a formal suspect, and has always maintained he was “wrongfully accused”.

Paris prosecutors told AFP that they on Wednesday have asked for the case to be abandoned.

It will now be up to an investigating magistrate to decide whether to again throw the case out.

Darmanin’s lawyers told AFP they had “taken note” of the prosecutors’ request, while neither the woman nor her lawyer were immediately available for comment.

Macron’s decision to appoint Darmanin interior minister in 2020 enraged feminists, coming weeks after the order to reopen the rape case and at the height of a wave of sexual assault allegations sparked by the #MeToo movement.

The high-flying politician, 39, is one of the key right-wing figures in the centrist Macron’s cabinet, brandishing tough rhetoric on issues including immigration, French identity and the current rocky relations with the UK.

He is expected to play a major role in a campaign by Macron to seek re-election later this year against a field of rivals so far dominated by figures on the right.


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