The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Paris police boss wants officers implicated in Canadian's alleged rape off force

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PARIS - The director of the Paris police service says he wants the officers implicated in the alleged rape of a Canadian woman out of his department.

Bernard Petit's remarks Monday to French radio station Europe1 came as authorities investigated two officers accused of raping the Canadian tourist at the city's police headquarters.

Both officers from the elite police unit, as well as a third who's considered a witness, have been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation that could take weeks or even months to complete.

French media have reported a 34-year-old Toronto woman met the off-duty officers in a bar last week and later went with them to their workplace.

As she left the station, she reportedly told another police officer she'd been raped, but a lawyer for one of the suspects told The Canadian Press the sex was consensual.

The police director told the radio station Monday he would not discuss the criminal allegations, but he called the behaviour of the officers from the noted anti-gang unit "absolutely unacceptable and intolerable."

"From an administrative point of view, things are clear in our minds," said Petit, who also noted they should have never have let someone from the outside into the headquarters.

"These boys no longer have a place within our unit."

The famed police headquarters, where the SWAT-like team is based, is often referred to in France simply by its address: 36 Quai des Orfevres.

A former French police officer, who now works in Montreal as a journalist and police analyst, said the building is well-known in France because of its many references in film and literature.

"It's a little bit like Scotland Yard," said Stephane Berthomet, who added he also worked for the French government on files such as organized crime and terrorism.

He said the police unit in question, known as the search and intervention brigade, conducts surveillance and carries out raids connected to major criminal activities.

Berthomet said that under French law a judge was designated to oversee the investigation because there was enough evidence that suggested an offence may have been committed.

Once the investigation is complete, he said the judge will either recommend that the officers be prosecuted in a criminal court or decide not to proceed due to a lack of sufficient evidence.

Sebastien Schapira, a lawyer for one of the officers, has denied his client did anything wrong.

Schapira told The Canadian Press on Sunday his client had "consensual" sexual relations with the woman.

He said the Canadian has since returned home, but he believes she should be in France while the investigation is carried out.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced over the weekend the officers had been removed from their posts during the investigation. He also said a disciplinary inquiry within the force is already underway.

— With files from Andy Blatchford in Montreal

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