Police search home of French writer accused of raping a minor

2 min

Paris (AFP)

French police on Thursday searched the home of a writer accused of raping a minor and who repeatedly described relationships with young teens in his work, a source said.

Gabriel Matzneff, who has never made any secret of his preference for sex with adolescent girls and boys, is to stand trial this year on a charge of justifying paedophilia.

Specialist investigators are looking for written passages that never appeared in any of Matzneff's published work, a source told AFP following a raid a day earlier at his Paris-based publisher Gallimard.

Prosecutors on January 3 launched a rape investigation after a bombshell book by publisher Vanessa Springora claimed she had a sexual relationship with the author three decades ago, starting when she was 14.

In her book "Le Consentement" (Consent), Springora described how her experiences with Matzneff, now 83, left lasting scars.

In the mid-1970s, he published a notorious essay called "Les Moins de Seize Ans" (The under 16s).

In an interview in 2008, he said he had "self-censored" certain portions of his writing he feared would be judged "especially scandalous", and hid these away in a bank safe.

The safe had been "located" by investigators, according to the Mediapart investigative website.

Matzneff has long been tolerated, admired and even protected in Paris literary circles. In 2013, he won the prestigious Renaudot prize.

But Gallimard said in January it was halting the sale of his works, and Matzneff risks losing two major state honours.

He said in an interview with French television in January that he "regrets" his trips to Asia to have sex with minors, claiming that at the time "no one ever said it was a crime".

On Tuesday, police launched an appeal for witnesses and victims to come forward in the case.

A source told AFP that investigators were also interested in Christian Giudicelli, Matzneff's editor at Gallimard and travel companion to the Philippines.

In a separate legal case, Matzneff will be tried on September 28, 2021, for "justification" of paedophile acts in statements he made in the media in response to Springora's allegations.

Charges against him were brought by anti-paedophilia group l'Ange Bleu (Blue Angel).