France to investigate rape allegations against minister Zacharopoulou

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© Ludovic Marin, AFP/ File picture

French prosecutors said on Wednesday they are investigating a junior minister in President Emmanuel Macron’s government after two allegations of rape were brought against her.

The rape allegations go back to when Chrysoula Zacharopoulou—who is now state secretary for development, Francophonie and international partnerships—still worked as a gynaecologist, according to French magazine Marianne.

One complaint was lodged May 25 and the investigation opened two days later, the prosecutors said. The second complaint was filed on June 16.

Greece-born Zacharopoulou, 46, joined the government of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne in May, having been a member of the European Parliament for the previous three years. She reports to Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.

She gained prominence in 2015 by campaigning for greater public awareness of endometriosis together with actress Julie Gayet, who this year married former French president Francois Hollande.

Zacharopoulou was strongly involved in the UN’s COVAX coronavirus vaccine rollout effort, and has spoken out in favour of women’s reproductive rights.

These are not the first rape allegations to shadow Macron’s government and come at a time of political difficulty for the president after he failed to retain a majority in parliamentary elections.

Prosecutors investigated Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin over an allegation for rape filed in 2017. He denied any wrongdoing and prosecutors in January asked for the case to be dropped.

Solidarities minister Damien Abad was also the target of rape allegations in a controversy that erupted last month but French prosecutors have said they were not currently opening an investigation.

(AFP)

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