Coronavirus: Police search homes of top French officials in COVID-19 probe

French Minister for Solidarity and Health Olivier Veran during a press conference in Paris on March 28, 2020.
French Minister for Solidarity and Health Olivier Veran during a press conference in Paris on March 28, 2020. Copyright Geoffroy van Der Hasselt, Pool via AP
By Associated Press
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Among those to be targeted were ex-prime minister Edouard Philippe and health minister Olivier Veran.


French police searched the homes of the former prime minister Edouard Philippe, the current and former health ministers and other top officials on Thursday in an investigation into the government response to the global coronavirus pandemic.

The health ministry confirmed the dawn searches, which included the offices of the current health minister Olivier Veran. 

They came a day after French President Emmanuel Macron announced curfews in the Paris region and eight other French metropolitan areas to deal with the rising toll of new infections.

COVID-19 patients, doctors, prison personnel, police officers and others in France filed an unprecedented 90 legal complaints in recent months, notably over shortages of masks and other equipment.

A special French court has ordered an investigation over the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Among those whose homes were searched include Philippe, Veran, his predecessor Agnes Buzyn, the head of the country's national health service Jerome Salomon, and Sibeth Ndiaye, a former government spokeswoman. Veran's office was searched as well.

Salomon abruptly cancelled an early-morning live interview on French news channel BFM-TV due to "personal reasons," according to the network.

Jean-Luc Reitzer, an opposition member of the French parliament who was hospitalised with a severe case of coronavirus, said he was shocked by the searches.

"Do our citizens seriously believe that the shortages, which were real, were voluntary?” he asked on BFM.

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