French interior minister cannot be prosecuted over rape accusations, top court rules

By Thomson Reuters Feb 14, 2024 | 7:55 AM

PARIS (Reuters) -French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin cannot be prosecuted for accusations of rape made by a woman for years, France’s highest court ruled on Wednesday, definitively dismissing the case and ending a seven-year legal battle.

A lower court was right to reject the complaint without starting a formal investigation due to a lack of evidence, the Cour de Cassation ruled.

The decision removed a major threat to the position of Darmanin, a former conservative who is one of President Emmanuel Macron’s most senior allies and seeks to be regarded as “France’s number one cop” through law-and-order politics and a tough stance on immigration.

Darmanin, who will be in charge of security during the forthcoming Paris Olympic Summer Games, repeatedly denied the allegation that he coerced a woman into having sex in 2009 when she sought his help in having her criminal record cleared.

But the back-and-forth between the woman and French authorities weighed on Darmanin throughout his career in government and earned him the ire of feminists who protested against his appointment as a minister.

(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel; editing by GV De Clercq and Mark Heinrich)