Royal asks: was it a burglary or a spy mission?

18th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 18, 2006 (AFP) - A pair of French left-wing politicians who are separately seen as possible candidates in presidential elections next year have had their shared Paris home broken into, one of them said Friday.

PARIS, Aug 18, 2006 (AFP) - A pair of French left-wing politicians who are separately seen as possible candidates in presidential elections next year have had their shared Paris home broken into, one of them said Friday.

Ségolène Royal, the Socialist Party's frontrunner to succeed President Jacques Chirac, told AFP her apartment in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt had suffered an "intrusion" while she was away on vacation.

She shares her flat with François Hollande, her long-term partner and the head of the Socialist Party. Hollande has also long harboured presidential ambitions but he trails far behind Royal in popular support.

Royal said she had hoped to keep the crime secret but was now confirming the break-in because of a "scandalous" decision by France's interior ministry to make the news public.

The ministry, however, immediately issued a denial that it had divulged any information "of a confidential nature."

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is seen as the leading presidential candidate from within Chirac's centre-right Union for a Popular Movement party.

Sarkozy and Royal have had several skirmishes in the media in the past months as each has jockeyed for position ahead of the elections, due to be held in April next year.

Friday's Le Figaro newspaper reported the break-in as a burglary, saying that jewellery may have been stolen and that the apartment was not guarded at the time.

But Royal told AFP: "This was not a burglary, but an intrusion and a full-scale search of my home in which nothing was stolen. Everything was turned upside down, the cupboards were emptied."

She said she had reported the break-in to police but not made a formal complaint in a bid to keep the crime out of the public eye.

"I find it scandalous that this information was given out by the interior minister's office even though I asked that this incident remain confidential", she said.

She added that she was now going to have her phone lines checked, intimating that the break-in might have been a cover to bug her phones in a political dirty tricks campaign.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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