Thursday, 27 August 2009

Official says racism accusations against him are political ploy

A high-ranking French official accused of racially insulting airport personnel has denied the claim, accusing French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux of orchestrating a biased investigation against him to restore his own image.

A French official charged with overseeing efforts to appease racially-charged tension in a French Indian Ocean territory has accused France's Interior Minister of orchestrating the affair.

Paul Girot de Langlade, coordinator of a political peace process on the island of Reunion, has been suspended pending an inquiry into a charge that he insulted security personnel at Orly airport by using a racial slur.

"I am the victim of a politcal ploy" the official told French daily Le Parisien on Thursday. "The investigation into what was initially a minor incident has been orchestrated by [Interior minister] Brice Hortefeux, who wants to restore his anti-racist image," he said, referring to a series of harsh anti-immigration measures.

"The behaviour and comments that have been attributed to me in the media for the past two days do not come from me and do not reflect reality or my personality," Girot de Langlade told France Inter radio on Saturday.

The prosecutor's office in the Paris suburb of Creteil has opened an investigation into "public insults of a racial character."

According to a judicial official, Girot de Langlade was stopped by security staff and asked to empty his pockets when a metal detector buzzer sounded after he disembarked from a flight at Orly airport outside Paris on July 31.

"You'd think we were in Africa. In any case, there are only blacks here," he is accused of replying, according to the official.


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