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France

French woman elected Interpol's first female chief

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-11-09

The world’s largest international police organisation Interpol made history on Thursday when it elected top French police chief Mireille Ballestrazzi as its first female president. Ballestrazzi made her name fighting organised crime in Corsica.

A top French police officer has been elected the first woman to lead the world’s largest international police organisation Interpol at its general assembly in Rome on Thursday.

Mireille Ballestrazzi, 58, well-known for her work combating organised crime in Bordeaux and Corsica, is currently second in command of France’s police force.

Interpol, based in the French city of Lyon, announced the historic appointment on Twitter.

Significant moment for women

Speaking about her appointment to French media Ballestrazzi said it was a significant moment for France and particularly for women.

“Of course I am happy they have put their trust in me,” Ballestrazzi told French radio RTL after her appointment was made public. “I am proud for women because this can have an impact and I am proud for France,” she added.

Ballestrazzi said she was “wholly committed to the fundamental role Interpol must play in global police cooperation.”

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who attended the Interpol assembly earlier this week, said Ballestrazzi was "a great police woman".

"She is one of the women who are the pride of the French police," he said.

Valls said her experience with organised crime would serve her well in fighting drug trafficking, mafias from southern and eastern Europe as well as growing political violence that requires a coordinated international response.

'Invaluable experience'

Ballestrazzi became a police commissioner in France in 1975 and was already vice-president for Europe on Interpol's executive committee.

She is particularly well known for her time as director of judicial police in Corsica in the 1990s at a time of fierce turf wars on the island.

France has not held the presidency of the Interpol since 1992 when Yvan Barbot was in charge of the organisation.

Interpol, whose aim is to promote cooperation between national police forces, has 190 member states.

The organisation’s Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said Ballestrazzi’s appointment was another example of Interpol’s evolution.

“She brings invaluable experience in cross-border police collaboration to her role, as well as proven leadership abilities, and I look forward to working closely with her to ensure that Interpol continues to provide innovative responses to meet the needs of our member countries,” said Noble.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2012-11-09

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