French interior minister to face parliament over Macron's bodyguard

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb waves as he leaves after a weekly cabinet meeting on July 18, 2018 at the Elysee palace in Paris. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2018
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French interior minister to face parliament over Macron's bodyguard

  • Gerard Collomb will be questioned by members of the lower house on Monday and by the Senate on Tuesday.
  • Alexandre Benalla, long a fixture at Macron's side, was taken into custody for police questioning on Friday, after an amateur video was released showing him at the May 1 protests in Paris wearing a riot helmet and police tags while off duty.

PARIS: French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb will be questioned by lawmakers next week as the government faces mounting criticism of the way it disciplined President Emmanuel Macron's top bodyguard who was filmed beating a protester on May Day.
Collomb will be questioned by members of the lower house on Monday and by the Senate on Tuesday.
Alexandre Benalla, long a fixture at Macron's side, was taken into custody for police questioning on Friday, after an amateur video was released showing him at the May 1 protests in Paris wearing a riot helmet and police tags while off duty.
Benalla had initially been suspended for 15 days and allowed to return to work. Under pressure, the French presidency said on Friday it had decided to begin dismissal procedures.
Lawmakers have launched a parliamentary inquiry into the incident itself, the initial punishment and the failure of the authorities to report Benalla promptly to the judiciary. The Paris prosecutor has also opened a preliminary investigation.
In the footage, which was released on Wednesday by Le Monde newspaper, Benalla can be seen dragging a woman away from a protest and later beating a male demonstrator. On Friday, French media released a second video which showed Benalla also manhandling the woman.
Another man who appears with him in an amateur video was also taken in custody.
Three other police officers were also suspended on Friday, including two suspected of passing footage of the events to Benalla earlier this week, and were taken into custody.
Critics of Macron have called the president's delayed response a characteristic sign that he is out of touch.


Speed control on Taiwan train ‘malfunctioned’ before deadly accident

Updated 5 min 36 sec ago
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Speed control on Taiwan train ‘malfunctioned’ before deadly accident

  • The train came off the rails on a curve while moving at close to 140 kilometers per hour
  • Derailments are not uncommon in Taiwan, but deadly accidents are rare

YILAN, Taiwan: A speed control system was not functioning when a train in Taiwan crashed killing 18 people and injuring 187, in the island’s worst rail disaster in decades, a top investigator said on Tuesday.
It was not clear whether the system, called automatic train protection, had switched off by itself or had been manually disabled before the accident on Sunday, the head of a government-led investigation team, Wu Ze-cheng, said.
“If the train was above the speed limit, the system should automatically slow it down. It seems like the system had failed. Why? We need more investigation,” Wu said.
The train came off the rails on a curve while moving at close to 140 kilometers per hour, above the speed limit of 74 kph, Wu said.
More investigation was needed to determine the cause, he added.
The driver of the train, You Zhen-zhong, 48, was granted bail of T$500,000 ($16,167) on Tuesday after being detained for investigation, the Taiwan Railways Administration said.
You had been treated in hospital following the accident in Yilan county, in the island’s mountainous northeast.
The train data recorder, which tracks speed, among other things, had been sent to prosecutors to be examined.
The disaster was Taiwan’s deadliest rail accident since a 1981 collision that killed 30 people.
The head of the state railway administration, Lu Jie-shen, had offered to resign but that was not accepted by the transport minister, the railway authority said.
Premier William Lai apologized for the accident on behalf of the government.
“People expected the railway to be the safest,” Lai told parliament.
“I apologize to the people on behalf of the Executive Yuan,” he said, referring to the island’s cabinet.
Train derailments are not uncommon on the island, which has rough, mountainous terrain, but deadly accidents are rare.