Sex and slander suits embroil French minister

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A French junior minister suing for slander over sexual harassment claims got hit by a further charge Thursday when a far-right leader said she would sue him for hinting she was behind the allegations.

Prosecutors said Wednesday they had launched a probe after civil service minister Georges Tron was accused of sexually harassing two former employees of the town hall where he is mayor in the Paris suburb of Draveil.

Tron counter-sued for defamation and linked the case to a feud with relatives of Marine Le Pen, leader of the right-wing National Front, hinting that she was close to the lawyer representing the alleged harassment victims.

Le Pen told RFI radio Thursday: "I find that very serious and from today I am suing Mr Tron for defamation."

"I will not let my reputation be called into question in order to save his," she added.

Commenting on the complaint brought against Tron, prosecutor Marie-Suzanne Le Queau said Wednesday: "If the facts alleged are established, they could come under the headings of sexual aggression and rape."

On Tuesday Tron told AFP the case was an attempt "to echo what's happening on the other side of the Atlantic," a reference to the sex crime charges in New York against former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

"I'm not naive," Tron said.

Prosecutors were examining the evidence to decide whether there are grounds to take it forward.

© 2011 AFP

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