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Top Paris cop charged in ‘conman to the stars’ tip-off case

Bernard Petit, 59 ans, mis en examen pour «violation du secret de l'instruction», le 6 février 2015.
Bernard Petit, 59 ans, mis en examen pour «violation du secret de l'instruction», le 6 février 2015. AFP

A top Paris police chief has been charged with tipping off a fellow cop about a criminal inquiry and fired from his job. And an imprisoned “conman to the stars”, has been called in for questioning in a related case of 52 kg of cocaine that went missing from police HQ.

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Bernard Petit, the head of the Paris section of the Police Judiciaire (PJ) was charged on Thursday in the latest of a series of scandals that have rocked France’s equivalent of the US’s FBI, which has provided the heroes of several famous films and novels.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

Investigating judges banned Petit from holding any post in the PJ and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve immediately suspended him from his functions.

Petit and two other current or former police officers were taken into custody earlier this week, suspected of having tipped off the founder of the GIGN elite gendarmerie unit, Christian Prouteau, that he was to be questioned in a case concerning high-profile conman Christophe Rocancourt.

Rocancourt, who is already serving time for another crime, is now accused of swindling two Moroccan sisters out of thousands of euros with a promise to obtain French nationality papers that never arrived.

He told investigators to have approached Prouteau and former junior minister Kofi Yamgnane, sources say.

Rocancourt himself was taken from Fleury-Mérogis prison to be questioned on Friday over allegations that Jonathan G, who is accused of stealing 52 kg of cocaine from the PJ’s headquarters, solicited his help to recover 200,000 euros.

The bulk of the money – 150,000 euros – is said to have been hidden in a lake just outside Paris and one of Rocancourt’s associates is alleged to have gone fishing for the money in January, but without success.

Rocancourt denies the accusation.

Petit, 59, is seen as close to the parliamentary left and was appointed by current Prime Minister Manuel Valls when he was interior minister, following the sacking of his predecessor, Christian Flaesch, for contacting right-wing former interior minister Brice Hortefeux over another legal case he was involved in.

At the time he told his subordinates that they had a duty to be exemplary.

Before the cocaine scandal erupted the PJ was hit by accusations that two officers had raped a Canadian tourist on its Paris premises.

Cazeneuve has proposed Marseille PJ boss Christian Sainte to replace Petit, subject to President François Hollande’s approval.
 

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