France opens investigation into rape allegations against minister Zacharopoulou

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Members of the French government at the Hotel Matignon in Paris
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PARIS (Reuters) -The Paris public prosecutor's office said on Wednesday it had opened an investigation into allegations of rape against French Secretary of State for Development and the Francophonie, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, after two complaints had been received.

A first complaint for rape was submitted on May 25, which led to the opening of the investigation on May 27. A second complaint was filed on June 16, the prosecutor's office said.

Officials at the minister's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Zacharopoulou, a trained physician, previously worked as a gynaecologist before moving to politics. French media earlier reported the complaints were linked to her professional activity.

Another newly appointed minister, Damien Abad, Minister for Solidarity and the Disabled, already faces mounting pressure over rape accusations made by two women.

Abad has denied the allegations and said he has no intention from resigning from the government.

The investigation adds further pressure on President Emmanuel Macron's government after this weekend's election setback in parliament.

Voters on Sunday delivered what is for France a rare hung parliament, with Macron's centrist alliance 44 seats short of an absolute majority, and the far right and a broad leftwing alliance battling to be the main opposition force, while the conservatives could be kingmakers.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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