Forensic experts on Thursday began conducting DNA tests on more than 100 officers from Paris’ police headquarters on the Seine in an unprecedented attempt to unmask the alleged rapist of a Canadian tourist.
The woman has accused off-duty officers from an elite police unit of raping her in the premises of 36, Quai des Orfèvres, long the Parisian equivalent of London’s Scotland Yard, in April 2014 after giving her a late-night guided tour of the premises.
The honey-coloured, castle-like building overlooking the Seine features in many famous books, films and series, from Spiral to Georges Simenon’s Maigret novels.
The officers had met the 34-year old Canadian, whose father was a policeman, in an Irish pub opposite the building.
Two officers were arrested shortly afterwards and charged, while a third was declared an “assistant witness” – one step short of being under formal investigation.
All deny wrongdoing, with one admitting “consenting sex” and the other two denying any involvement. All three have been suspended from the force.
Analysis of their mobile phones revealed that they had erased “explicit” videos and text messages from their mobile phones, a source close to the inquiry told AFP.
During the inquiry, three traces of DNA were found on the alleged victim’s underwear – those of the two charged officers and a third, unknown man, who, it is hoped, this week’s genetic tests will unmask.
The operation, described as unprecedented in scope, is being led by the IGPN unit, known as “the police of the police”.
Police union Synergie criticised the much-publicised DNA tests as a “scandalous operation” that had been “staged” by police inspectors to “cast opprobrium on a prestigious service and stigmatise the officers of ‘36’”.
The shocking case of alleged gang-rape inside police headquarters prompted the interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, to pledge that the charged officers would “face the full consequences” if found guilty.
The police headquarters has been tainted by several scandals in recent years.
Last year a police sergeant from the anti-drugs unit was placed under formal investigation on suspicion of walking out of the building with 52kg of cocaine worth €2m housed in a secure room after a raid.
The judicial police headquarters is due to move to the Batignolles district of northwestern Paris next year, with critics saying Le Quai des Orfèvres is too cramped and antiquated to house 2,200 officers investigating about 15,000 crimes and offences a year.