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French police officers convicted of gang rape of tourist

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An undated combined photo of Antoine Quirin (L) and Nicolas Redouane, two French policemen, who have been convicted of gang rape and sentenced to seven years in prison. (Photo by AFP)

Two French policemen have been convicted of gang rape and sentenced to seven years in prison over the assault of a Canadian tourist at the Paris police headquarters, 36 Quai des Orfevres.

The woman, Emily Spanton, said she met a group of officers in an Irish pub in April 2014 and they invited her for a night tour of police headquarters.

She said that after she arrived there she was forced to drink whiskey and perform sex acts, and was raped several times.

Spanton first said that she had been raped by four officers, before revising her testimony to three. Only two policemen have been brought to court.

The two policemen, Antoine Q (40) and Nicolas R (49), were not named during the three-week hearing under a French law protecting those working in sensitive police jobs.

The officers, who at the time of the incident were both members of the BRI force that specializes in serious criminal cases, denied any wrongdoing and claim Spanton consented to sexual interactions during an alcohol-fueled evening.

In this file photo taken on January 14, 2019 Sophie Obadia (C), the lawyer of Canadian national Emily Spanton (back L), arrives with her client for a hearing at the Criminal Court (Cour d'Assises) in Paris. (Photo by AFP)

Police found the officers had destroyed vital evidence including photographs and videos taken on the night.

Judges initially threw out the case, but the Paris prosecutor and Spanton won their appeal to have it brought before a jury.

Widespread criticism

There has been widespread criticism of the handling of the case. Spanton was tested for alcohol and drugs, questioned for five hours after the attack, and had her hotel room and computer searched. Investigators later traveled to Canada to question her friends and family.

Meanwhile, the two police officers returned home in the early hours of the morning in question without being breathalyzed. The crime scene was not secured and pieces of vital evidence disappeared. The officers were initially suspended but had since returned to work with the French police force.

This file photo taken on June 30, 2017 shows the entrance to the Direction Regionale de Police Judiciaire (DRPJ), also known by its address the "36 quai des Orfevres", in Paris. (Photo by AFP)

Increase of rape complaints

Rape complaints increased almost 17 percent while sexual assault complaints jumped by around 20 percent, the statistics showed.

The figures came against a background of “collective awareness of violence towards women born out of the (Harvey) Weinstein affair… and the MeToo movement that followed,” a report by the ministry’s statistical service said.

“The higher number of victims… probably comes from increased reporting of such crimes and a reduction in tolerance for this type of violence,” it added.

The global “MeToo” movement that followed the Weinstein case encouraged victims to speak out with sexual allegations surfacing against a raft of well-known figures in the media and entertainment industries.

Political figures and aid group chiefs have also faced allegations.

(Source: Agencies)

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