French anti-racism movement targeted in probe
Four SOS Racisme leaders where questioned by French police on Wednesday as part of a corruption probe.Paris – French police on Wednesday questioned four leaders of one of France's leading anti-racism movements, SOS Racisme, as part of a corruption probe involving a prominent opposition MP.
SOS Racisme president Dominique Sopo and three other leaders were taken to a Paris police station after a four-hour raid on the headquarters of the movement on Tuesday.
Investigators are looking into questionable cash transfers to bank accounts belonging to Julien Dray, a senior Socialist Party official and member of parliament and former top advisor to ex-presidential candidate Segolene Royal.
Dray, 54, is suspected of having received about EUR 350,000 (USD 494,000) since January 2006 from a group linked to SOS Racisme and the Fidl student organisation.
The member of the National Assembly, a co-founder of SOS Racisme, has denied any wrongdoing in the probe opened in December for breach of trust.
Founded in 1984, SOS Racisme spearheaded a successful campaign against discrimination in the late 1980s, leading huge street protests across France under the slogan "Touche Pas a Mon Pote" (Hands Off My Pal).
Dray's lawyer Leon-Lef Forster said his client was considering legal action to counter what he termed as leaks to the press about the investigation.
"The tactic used by investigators is aimed at politically destabilising and not calmly seeking the truth," said Forster.
"Mr Dray is ready to answer all of the questions that will be put to him and considers it unacceptable that he has not yet been questioned," he added.
Sopo and the three other leaders were expected to be released within 48 hours. Two other members of SOS Racisme were questioned earlier in the week.
Police conducted a first search of SOS Racisme's headquarters in Paris in December and the allegations have been vehemently rejected by Dray, who was Socialist Party spokesman from 2003 until 2008.
The investigation revolves around a support group called Les Parrains de SOS Racisme, presided by Pierre Berge, the wealthy former longtime partner of the late French fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent.
AFP / Expatica