A French narcotics officer went on trial on Tuesday, accused of stealing around 50 kilograms of cocaine from police headquarters in central Paris in one of the most embarrassing scandals ever to hit the high-profile force.
The 36-year-old suspect, Jonathan Guyot, will appear in court along with nine other people, including his wife, his policeman brother, and a celebrity fraudster dubbed the “world’s coolest conman”.
They face a range of theft, drugs and money-laundering charges over a 2014 heist within the premises of Paris police headquarters, made famous in French-language detective novels and commonly referred to as the “36 quai des Orfèvres”.
With an estimated street-value of €2 million ($2.12 million), the 110-pound haul of cocaine went missing on July 24, 2014, from a safe three weeks after it was seized.
Footage from security cameras on that night shows Guyot entering the police building, and guards patrolling the entrance also say they saw him leave with two bags, according to prosecutors.
Guyot, who had been in the anti-drugs squad since 2010, maintains his innocence, but has presented alibis deemed "extravagant" by an investigating magistrate.
Cocaine still missing
Prosecutors say a code for the safe where the drugs were held was found on Guyot’s mobile phone. The anti-drug cop was also carrying more than €24,000 in cash at the time of his arrest on August 2, 2014 -- which he claims he won from online gaming.
The missing cocaine remains unaccounted for to this day.
Suspected drug dealer Farid Kharraki is believed to have sold it but denies any involvement in the affair, despite evidence that the two men were in touch before and after the night of the theft, according to prosecutors.
Guyot, who owns a portfolio of properties in Paris and in southern France, is accused of having handed over a total of €400,000 to two childhood friends, one of them a policeman.
His brother, also a policeman, admitted to disposing of €150,000 in a lake in the suburbs of Paris, and giving €50,000 long-hidden in a bush nearby to a third party.
The French conman
Among the 10 defendants is a fraudster called Christophe Rocancourt, known for tricking celebrities with his false identities, which included posing as a French aristocrat, an heir to the Rockefeller dynasty and Sophia Loren’s son.
Rocancourt is suspected of helping Guyot retrieve some of his money. They were both in jail at the same time.
The trial is expected to last until March 17. It follows a string of scandals that have tarnished the police department’s reputation in recent years.
In April 2014, two elite officers were accused of raping a Canadian tourist inside 36 quai des Orfèvres. The case did not go to trial and the two policemen were not sentenced.
The department suffered another blow in February 2015 after a top boss was suspended over suspicion that he leaked information about another top official under investigation for giving fake documents to illegal immigrants.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2017-03-07