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  1. #1
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    It began as a simple sting operation to snare a group of corrupt police officers operating in the southern French city of Marseille, a rump of racketeers extorting drugs and cash from the criminal underworld.

    After months of surveillance, investigators made their move last week, searching a police station and finding €800 (£644), a kilo of cannabis and a few dozen watches hidden behind a false ceiling.



    While it hardly represented a King's ransom, what has unravelled since has been truly extraordinary; one of the biggest corruption scandals in the history of the French constabulary, allegations of murder and an alleged cover-up at the highest levels.



    A total of 30 policemen have now been suspended, representing around half of the elite anti-crime squad - known as the BAC (Brigade anti-criminalite) Nord - that operated in Marseille's drug and crime infested northern district.



    Prosecutors have already said there is "overwhelming proof" of their involvement in a massive extortion racket alleged to have made the ringleaders thousands of euros per month; cash that funded luxury lifestyles of swimming pools and fast cars for officers supposedly earning public sector wages. Some were so sure they operated above the law that they would brazenly waltz into restaurants in Marseille's old port, eat and "tell the boss they weren't paying", it was alleged.


    Jacques Dallest, a local prosecutor, likened their actives to an infection of "gangrene" at the heart of the French police and warned: "This sorry affair is far from over." His words could not have been more prophetic.

    On Friday it emerged that the man now responsible for half of the country's police officers may have been warned of the scandal as far back as 2009.


    Le Point magazine reported that Pascal Lalle, the former number two in the Marseille force, had been given detailed information on alleged abuses by three whistleblowers and a social worker.


    Each time, Mr Lalle reportedly conducted an internal inquiry but took matters no further. He has since been made the new head of France's Central Directorate of National Security – the uniformed response arm of the police. It took the arrival of a new police chief in Marseille late last year to launch a full-scale judicial inquiry.

    On Friday Manuel Valls, the interior minister, stood by his police chief, saying he had his "total trust" and was a "great policeman".


    "I warn people against rumours whose aim is to dirty and destabilise him," he said. Privately, he is said to have ordered aides to find out "how far up the chain this goes."


    The entire BAC Nord unit has now been disbanded. Of the 30 officers who have been suspended, seven are currently behind bars and eight under judicial control. They have been placed under investigation for theft and extortion of money and drugs - charges that carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.


    Mr Valls pledged to "reinforce the hierarchy" of Marseille's police with three new chief, 120 reinforcements, and a "unified" command structure.


    But The Daily Telegraph has been told he may have to take even more radical action to root out all those involved in the scandal.


    In an interview with this newspaper, Damien Benedetti, a lawyer who defends drugs dealers in the tough suburbs where Zinedine Zidane and Eric Cantona grew up, said the problem was not limited to Marseille Nord.

    "Why would there be black sheep in the BAC Nord and not in the central and southern districts?," he asked. "My clients in these other sectors say they have been subjected to the same treatment. The problem is the same in all divisions."


    For years he has received complaints from drug dealers in the housing estates that anti-crime police would stop them, take a cut of the drugs and cash from their pouches then let them go.


    "The system was failsafe as the police knew it was not in my clients' interests to stand up in court and say: 'There wasn't 500 euros in my pouch, but 2,000 euros, there weren't four bars of cannabis but ten'."


    But the scandal does not just stop at narcotics and moeny. There are some in the city who now believe the corrupt police officers may be linked to a recent spate of murders that has led some to call for the deployment of the army in the city.


    While Marseille will next year be the European capital of culture, a spate of gangland killings has left 21 people dead in the northern suburbs in the past year.


    The latest occurred on Thursday, when gunmen with clown masks shot dead a 58-year-old "retired" gangster in broad daylight in the city centre as he sipped coffee at a terrace.


    Last month, Samia Ghali, mayor of Marseille's poorest northern districts, dropped a verbal bombshell by declaring that only the army could quell the violence.


    The government refused, but was stung into declaring Marseille a national security priority.


    Miss Ghali said she hadn't realised how prophetic her words would be. "If I called for the army to intervene I had my reasons. I felt something wasn't right on the ground, that young people were no longer afraid of the police, but I didn't know why," she told the Daily Telegraph.


    "Now it transpires that part of the police were colluding with what they were doing and everything is falling into place."


    The shabby white tower blocks of La Savine, a northern suburban housing project, sit on a hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean. Sitting in the local resident's association, its leader Rachida Tir said she had long known of the corruption claims, and that they raised questions about police involvement in the spike in recent killings. "People are linking the two together, saying police are the real chiefs of a network they had no interest in breaking.


    "I know five or six of the kids killed. Before it was men of 40 to 50 but now it's all youngsters. How can that be?," she asked.


    Could Marseille see anti-crime policemen accused of murder? "It's not impossible, though we're not there yet," several sources close to the investigation told Le Canard Enchaîné.


    Beatrice Manoukian, who represents one of the policemen charged, warned against speculation. She insisted there was a "difference between truly corrupt policemen who take their personal share and those who are obliged to employ certain techniques to solve cases and catch big criminals."


    : Source

  2. #2
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    Since he is now prime minister, we will see if he will make the french law more flexible when it comes to cannabis comsumption, in french, they say "graine femelle" or "graine autofloraison" if i am correct.
    if you live in france, feel free to visit our online shop, we deliver to you securely and rapidly
    http://www.high-supplies.com/fr

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