World Europe 25 Jul 2016 Nice attack: Policew ...

Nice attack: Policewoman claims ministry pressured her to alter report

AFP
Published Jul 25, 2016, 10:05 am IST
Updated Jul 25, 2016, 10:56 am IST
They ordered me to put in (the report) the specific positions of national police which I had not seen on screen, claims the policewoman.
The furore was further fuelled by a request from prosecutors that security camera videos of the night of the attack be erased. (Photo: AFP)
 The furore was further fuelled by a request from prosecutors that security camera videos of the night of the attack be erased. (Photo: AFP)

Paris: A new crisis hit France's government when a senior policewoman claimed the interior ministry pressured her to alter a report into security at the Nice fireworks display where 84 were killed when a man rammed a lorry into the crowd.

The interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, whose account of police deployments on the night of July 14 celebrations has already faced questions has been the lightning rod for criticism over alleged security failures.

 

Having resisted calls for his resignation from the far right, who are strong in the Riviera city, the Socialist hit back at the "grave accusations" made by the policewoman on Sunday, saying he would sue for defamation.

He later told France 2 television that he would counter "a villainous campaign" of lies against him from opposition politicians in Nice "blow for blow".

Sandra Bertin, who is in charge of Nice's system of security cameras, told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper she had been "harassed for an hour" by an unnamed interior ministry official on the phone after a "commissioner" came to see her the day after the attack.

 

She said she had been told to detail the presence of the local police at the Bastille Day fireworks event and also to report "that the national police had also been deployed at two points".

"The national police were perhaps there, but I couldn't see them on the video," Bertin told the newspaper.

"He ordered me to put in (the report) the specific positions of the national police which I had not seen on the screen," she was quoted as saying.

On Thursday, the left-leaning Liberation daily reported that only one local police car was barring the entry to the pedestrianised seafront when Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel forced his lorry onto the Promenade des Anglais, mowing down families.

 

Since the carnage 10 days ago, the third major attack in France in 18 months, Cazeneuve has also been locked in an escalating row with the right-wing leaders of the Riviera city over claims of slack security.

The furore was further fuelled by a request from prosecutors that security camera videos of the night of the attack be erased.

Local authorities claimed it amounted to "destruction of proof" but prosecutors, who already had a copy, said it was to stop "shocking" images of the events in which 350 people were also hurt leaking out.

 

Former Nice mayor Christian Estrosi, who now heads the regional administration, has also accused the government of lying over the number of police and soldiers protecting the crowds that night.

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