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French PM orders crackdown in Corsica, Europe's murder hotspot

©RFI/Cécile Bonici

France on Monday unveiled a set of measures aimed at tackling organised crime in Corsica, six days after a high-profile lawyer was shot dead on the Mediterranean island.


Corsica already has the highest murder rate in Europe but last week’s murder pushed the issue of crime on the island up the political agenda.

Announcing the measures, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the emphasis would be on combating money-laundering and racketeering on the island, which the French call the Ile de Beauté.

He noted that police believe most of the murders appear to be the work of criminal gangs settling accounts connected to business and property affairs.

Ayrault also promised police would be given more resources to "identify mafia networks and investigate the movement of assets and irregular financial transactions."

Responsibility for fighting serious crime in Corsica is shared between local police, an anti-mafia team of detectives based in Marseille and an anti-terrorism unit in Paris, which monitors nationalists waging a low-level armed struggle for independence.

Critics say crime has flourished in Corsica partly because there is little coordination between the different branches of the security services.

Ayrault said a system of regular meetings between the three would be introduced in a bid to speed up investigations.

Antoine Sollacaro, a lawyer who was a leading figure in the Corsican nationalist movement, was shot dead on October 16.

He was the 15th person to be murdered on the island this year. Since the start of 2011 there have been 37 murders and 117 attempted murders.



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