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France: Senior Macron minister Chrysoula Zacharopoulou accused of rape

·3-min read
Chrysoula Zacharopoulou (REUTERS)
Chrysoula Zacharopoulou (REUTERS)

A newly appointed female minister in French president Emmanuel Macron’s new government is under investigation for rape, it emerged on Wednesday.

Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, the 46-year-old Secretary of State for Development, is the subject of two complaints from a woman who cannot be named for legal reasons.

It follows a series of sex scandals in the Macron administration – ones which have led to accusations that the head of state is too relaxed about serious criminal accusations and refuses to sake those involved.

A source at the Paris public prosecutor’s office on Wednesday told the Marianne news outlet that the latest case related to Ms Zacharopoulou’s time as a gynaecologist.

“An enquiry has been opened into two alleged acts of rape which were allegedly committed in the suspect’s medical duties,” said the source.

The first complaint was filed on May 25, and the investigation was opened two days later “to determine whether the facts are likely to fall within the scope of criminality”.

Examining magistrates are now working on the enquiry with a specialist police brigade, meaning Ms Zacharopoulou has already been interviewed at length.

Ms Zacharopoulou, a Greece-born former MEP, joined the French government on May 20 – before last Sunday’s disastrous election results, which saw Mr Macron lose is parliamentary majority.

Like new prime minister Elisabeth Borne, Ms Zacharopoulou is considered to be one of the most powerful female politicians in Mr Macron’s government.

Despite the accusations, she has kept her role in the government, which beyond Development also covers Francophonie (French-speaking countries) and International Partnerships.

There was no initial comment about the accusations from Ms Zacharopoulou, or any of her government colleagues.

Damien Abad, France’s Minister for Solidarity and Disabled People, is also facing intense scrutiny following accusations of rape from two women.

Both accuse Mr Abad, 42, of forcing them to have unwanted sexual relationships with him in late 2010 and early 2011.

One of the accusers filed two complaints with police in 2012 and 2017, but they were later closed with no action taken.

Mr Abad strongly denies the allegations, saying that his arthrogryposis, a condition that affects the limbs, would make it physically impossible for him to commit rape.

Mr Macron has meanwhile stuck with Mr Abad, saying there was no reason to sack him because of unproven allegations.

In July 2020, Mr Macron also expressed his wish to act as ‘guarantor of the presumption of innocence’ and ‘not give in to emotion’, when he refused to dismiss his Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, despite a rape accusation against him.

After closing the case against Mr Darmanin without any further action, the Paris public prosecutor’s office requested that the case be dismissed at the beginning of 2022.

It was the same with Nicolas Hulot, Mr Macron’s former Minister responsible for Energy Transition.

Mr. Hulot was implicated in a sexual violence case in 2018, but the head of state did not sack him, warning against ‘an inquisition.’

This led to fierce criticism of Mr Macron from former women’s rights minister Laurence Rossignol, who said: “Emmanuel Macron has not understood that we cannot treat accusations of sexual violence, saying “It does not exist, move along, there is nothing to see, I will stand my ground.”

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