French police have carried out dawn raids on a raft of prominent politicians, including the former prime minister and the current health minister, as part of an inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The extraordinary development came after doctors, Covid-19 patients, police officers and others filed an unprecedented number of complaints about equipment shortages and other issues, prompting a special court to order an investigation into how the government managed the crisis.
The French health ministry confirmed that the home and offices of health minister Olivier Veran, as well as the homes of former prime minister Edouard Philippe and Veran’s predecessor Agnès Buzyn, were searched on Thursday morning.
A host of other prominent persons were also targeted by investigators, including Sibeth Ndiaye, a former spokesperson for President Emmanuel Macron, Geneviève Chêne, director general of the French public health agency, and Jérôme Salomon, France’s top health ministry official.
On Wednesday night Macron announced nightly curfews –9pm and 6am– in Paris and eight other cities in a bid to clamp down on the rising number of new Covid-19 cases. Almost a third of the country’s population will be impacted when the curfews come into effect from Saturday.
“We cannot get through this if everyone doesn’t play their part, doesn’t do their bit. So I am saying very clearly the message I have come to convey this evening: I need every one of you, we need each one of us,” Macron said in a TV address announcing the new measures.
French law dictates that the president is immune from prosecution during his term of office and cannot be held accountable in a court investigation.
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