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'Supercop' suspended on drugs charges

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2011-10-06

He’s credited with reducing drug crime and robberies in France’s second-largest city Lyon. But Michel Neyret was suspended from police duties Wednesday, accused of associating with criminals and supplying them with drugs.

Top French policeman Michel Neyret was suspended from duty on Wednesday. The "supercop" is charged with associating with criminals and rewarding informants with drugs.

The deputy police chief in France’s second-largest city Lyon was remanded in custody late Monday.

Neyret, dubbed Lyon’s “supercop”, is accused of corruption, abuse of power, association with criminals and trafficking illegal drugs, his lawyers confirmed on Tuesday.

"Mr. Neyret was considered a great policeman whose methods were very effective. This case is highly damaging to the national police. It’s an extremely complicated and difficult case in terms of police ethics.

But all crimes uncovered in this investigation will be punished. That is the police’s job, ” France's Interior Minister Claude Guéant told French television FRANCE 2 late Monday.

Rolls Royce ‘gift’

Neyret has admitted that he had been “imprudent” and accepted “gifts”, allegedly from senior members of Lyon’s criminal underworld, including use of a Ferrari and a Rolls Royce on the French Riviera and a trip to Morocco.

Neyret’s lawyer Gabriel Versini-Bullara said his client “is determined to prove that he is not the corrupt policeman that certain people have portrayed him as, and that some senior criminals are looking to stigmatise him”.

Versini-Bullara added: “He cannot deny everything, he acknowledges certain things, such as dealings with informants and how they were rewarded. But this is not criminal conspiracy.”

Neyret’s second lawyer Aurelie Sauveayre said the case above all brought into question how informants should be dealt with by their police handlers.

Speaking on Tuesday, the French Interior Minister Guéant admitted that “in the nature of their work, police dealt closely with criminals and sometimes had to maintain contacts in the underworld.

“But there is a red line that should never be crossed,” he said. “Conspiring with criminals is illegal and policemen should never break the law.”

‘Old-style cop’

In Lyon, Neyret has been credited by many with reducing drug crime and jewellery heists in Lyon.

Seen as an “old-style cop”, the 55-year-old with carefully-coiffed hair and a salt and pepper beard, is highly respected as a policeman but was also known for his glamorous lifestyle and socialising.

He is the inspiration for the hero of the upcoming crime-busting film “Les Lyonnais” made by one of his former colleagues, Olivier Marchal.

Neyret was arrested after phone taps investigating international drugs gangs allegedly identified the collusion of senior policemen in Lyon.

Five other officers, including the head of Lyon “anti-gang” brigade, two senior officers in Grenoble and two members of the national drug squad also face suspension.

Date created : 2011-10-05

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