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Paris prosecutor launches investigation of France's management of COVID-19 crisis

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By Pascale Davies  & AFP
France has seen over 29,000 deaths due to coronavirus.
France has seen over 29,000 deaths due to coronavirus.   -   Copyright  ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP or licensors

An investigation has been opened into how France handled of the COVID-19 pandemic, after scores of complaints by labour unions and individuals, Paris's chief prosecutor said in a statement on Tuesday.

Remy Heitz said possible charges include endangering the lives of others, involuntary homicide, failure to assist those in danger, and willingly abstaining from fighting a threat.

But he said the probe would not "assign political or administrative blame" but would "uncover possible criminal offences" by national decision-makers.

According to French law, President Emmanuel Macron will have immunity from the prosecution and cannot be held accountable.

Government ministers can be held responsible but only by the Republican Court of Justice, which has received dozens of complaints, according to Heitz.

The prosecutor's office has received more than 60 complaints, which include alleged failures to implement anti-virus protections in workplaces and mass testing.

The investigation will not include complaints about the handling of coronavirus in elderly care homes, which are privately owned.

More than 29,000 people have died in France from COVID-19, which is the third highest death toll In Europe.

"If there is criminal wrongdoing, it will probably have been - it's a hypothesis - unintentional," Heitz said.