World Bulletin/News Desk
A police unit in Marseille assigned to tackle spiralling gang violence, drug trafficking and a murder rate that have shocked France is deeply corrupt, the city prosecutor said on Friday.
"The feeling is of a gangrene that has struck, that has touched this service," prosecutor Jacques Dallest said of the 60-member brigade policing the crime-ridden and heavily immigrant northern areas of France's second largest city.
During a search this week, inspectors from France's police watchdog division found hashish, 800 euros ($1,000) in cash, plus marijuana and jewels, hidden in false ceilings in the offices, lockers, and homes of suspects working in the northern police brigade.
"I consider it an organised system of theft, racketeering, and drug trafficking," Dallest told a news conference after 12 of 13 officers arrested this week were taken before judges. He said further arrests were likely.
Later on Friday, investigating magistrates jailed four of the 12 officers and put them under a formal judicial inquiry - a process that usually, but not always, leads to trial under French law.
The rampant crime in Marseille, as well as a similar scandal in France's third largest city, Lyon, have posed a huge headache for Socialist President Francois Hollande.
He is under pressure to tackle the breakdown in law and order in Marseille's northern parts, which have been subject to stepped-up policing since 2008, but has so far rejected political calls for the army to intervene.
Hollande, whose approval ratings have tumbled since his May election, is caught between campaign promises to help youth living in dangerous housing project communities at the periphery of ma n y French cities, and the need to be seen to be tough on crime.
The number of murders in Marseille had reached 12 as of Aug. 30, just short of last year's total of 13. The violence in the historic port's northern district takes place far from the plush coastal neighbourhoods on the Mediterranean.
Dallest described the alleged racket as "pretty much a whole catalogue of the most unacceptable schemes" that include taking drugs, cigarettes and cash from dealers and others, and conducting illegal searches of crime suspects, sharing the seized drugs and money between officers.
"There is no place for those who tarnish the police uniform," Interior Minister Manuel Valls told reporters.
The affair adds to a separate corruption investigation in Lyon, where the deputy police chief is accused of selling drugs.
The Marseille suspects face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
UNRWA, the main U.N. relief agency in Gaza, said it was at "breaking point" with more than 200,000 Palestinians having taken shelter in its schools and buildings
The dead and injured include not just Uighurs but members of China's majority Han Chinese population, the report said.
Three years after Gaddafi's fall, the OPEC nation has failed to control ex-rebel militias who refuse to disband and who are threatening the unity of the country
Providing many examples of ongoing debate around Gaza massacre among Zionists, Philip Weiss from Mondoweiss draws an important picture
Called Abdullah al-Maaraji, the slain officer was the commander of the Yemeni army's infantry brigade that fought against Al-Qaeda in Lawdar District in 2012
The White House has been working closely with lawmakers, privacy experts and technology companies to secure Senate passage of what it considers critical legislation
"Israel's targeting of civilians proves its failure to confront the Palestinian resistance," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.
Propaganda materials from the National Liberation Army (ELN), which regularly attacks oil facilities in Latin America's fourth largest economy, were left at the sites of the explosions, police
In the latest Israeli attacks in the embattled territory on Tuesday, two people were killed when Israeli troops shelled eastern Rafah. An Israeli raid also targeted a house in the southern city of Khan Younis, killing 17 family members.
The ruling Communist Party has decided to probe Zhou for suspected "serious disciplinary violations", the official Xinhua news agency said in a brief dispatch, using the usual euphemism for corruption.
The African country is sliding into a state of anarchy as rival militia forces battle for control in the capital Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi.
Syria, Central African Republic and Burma lead the world in displacing people on grounds of religious identities, according to report
Militants group stormed the Katarko town, about 25km from Damaturu, the provincial capital of northeastern Yobe state, and shot dead eight people
A magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit southwest of Clara, Veracruz, was felt in Mexico City
A 21-year-old Palestinian, Alaa Azaer, died of gunshot injuries he sustained in clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians protesting a deadly Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip
The labels Belgium has in mind would mainly apply to fruit and vegetables grown in Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley of the West Bank