Entries in France (109)


Robber Steals $53M in Jewels at Cannes Hotel

F1Online/Thinkstock(CANNES, France) -- The Cannes, France, hotel that served as the setting for one of the most famous jewel heist movies of all time was the scene of a brazen armed robbery Sunday, when a gunman made off with an estimated $53 million in jewels and diamonds from a gem exhibition.

It was the third such heist in the French Riviera resort in as many months.

The gunman walked into the luxury Carlton hotel in broad daylight and headed for "La Cote," a room housing a temporary exhibit of jewelry by the prestigious Leviev diamond house, owned by the London-based Russian Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev that had been due to run until the end of August.

"The thief in his mid-40s entered the room of the exhibition, pulled a Colt .45 out at the employees, stuffed a bag with gems and walked out of the hotel," Cannes police told ABC News. "We do not know yet if the thief had accomplices, but we are investigating everything. It's a full scale investigation."

The Carlton hotel dominates the exclusive Promenade de la Croisette that stretches a mile and a half along the French Riviera.

It was a movie set hotel for To Catch a Thief, the 1955 Alfred Hitchcock romantic thriller starring Cary Grant as a former jewel thief and Grace Kelly as an American heiress on holiday in the Riviera with her mother.

The Carlton hotel is also where Kelly met her future husband, Prince Rainier of Monaco, for the first time -- at the prince's request -- during the Cannes Film Festival.

Cannes is a popular target for a group of international jewel thieves known as the Pink Panthers, after the popular comedy crime films starring Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau.

The Carlton itself was already a scene of one of the biggest diamond robberies, in August 1994, when a group of thieves firing machineguns burst into the hotel's jewelry store and made off with some $60 million in diamonds.

The latest robbery comes just over two months after a safe containing more than $1 million of jewelry designed by the exclusive Swiss-based jeweler and watchmaker Chopard was taken from a Novotel hotel room during the city's film festival in May.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Massive Anti-Gay Marriage Protest in Paris

ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images(PARIS) -- Tens of thousands of protesters have amassed in Paris in opposition to the recently passed law allowing for gay marriage, according to BBC News.

President Francois Hollande signed the bill into law last week, allowing both gay marriage and gay adoption. With the signing of the bill, France became the ninth country in Europe, and 14th country in the world to legalize gay marriage.

Organizers said that close to one million people had joined marches, but police estimated a figure closer to 150,000.

According to the interior ministry, 96 people were arrested during the mostly peaceful protest, noting that most of those arrested were already known to police as people to watch out for due to past violent behavior.

Jacques Myard, a member of parliament, was one of the protesters. Myard told BBC News that gay marriage “is something we cannot accept because of the fate of the children."

"Those people are playing God, because they want to marry, but it won't stop at this stage,” Myard said. “Then they will adopt, and then we will have children in families where there is no father or no mother."

Myard claimed there was a "huge gap between this government and the citizens" regarding the issue of gay marriage.

Meanwhile, Blue is the Warmest Color, a lesbian romance film, won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in the south of France on Sunday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


French Soldier Stabbed in Possible Copycat Attack

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- A French soldier was stabbed on the outskirts of Paris only days after a gruesome killing of a British soldier on a London street.

The soldier was stabbed in the neck with a box cutter on Saturday. He was in uniform at the time of the attack.

The soldier was taken to the military hospital Percy in Clamartou, France, and will survive.

Authorities do not know who the attacker was. He fled the scene without saying a word, and police are searching for him.

The attack was less brutal that the beheading of a British soldier in London, but there is a concern that this is a copycat attack.

President François Hollande says authorities are investigating any connections. He cautioned against jumping to any conclusions.

Authorities in London have been worried about other attacks on soldiers, and have increased security around bases inside London. ABC News’ Nick Schifrin notes that if this is in fact a copycat attack, “there'll be big concerns across Europe and a real need to increase security around all troops.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Notorious French Criminal Escapes from Prison

Kevin Horan/Stone(LILLE, France) -- French police are searching for a notorious armed robber who escaped from prison on Saturday morning.

According to BBC News, Redoine Faid used dynamite and took four prison guards hostage before breaking out of Sequedin prison.

Faid was locked up in 1998 after being convicted of a series of armed robberies, but was released on parole in 2009. After his release, Faid published a book about how he grew into a life of crime. Faid was taken back to jail in 2011 for a violation of his parole.

Faid may have received the explosives from his wife on Saturday morning when she visited him at the prison, according to BBC News. After his escape in a getaway car, Faid burned the car and took another vehicle.

Officials are still investigating the escape. Faid is considered armed and dangerous.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


French President Will Receive New Camel to Replace One Eaten

PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/Getty Images(TIMBUKTU, Mali) -- The president of France will soon get a “bigger and better-looking” camel after an apparent misunderstanding led to a West African family eating a camel that was originally given to him as a gift.

Authorities in Mali say they will send the replacement camel to France for safe keeping after the faux pas was discovered last week. The family of farmers in northern Mali, whom President Francois Hollande asked to care for his young camel, slaughtered the animal to make stew.

Malian officials presented Hollande with the baby camel when he visited the country in February.  It was a thank you gift for France’s military intervention to help the Malian army fight back Islamist radicals who had seized more than half of the country.

As the media filmed the presentation of the camel, the animal brayed obnoxiously while Hollande joked, “I will use it as often as I can for transportation.”

But instead of flying the camel back to France, Hollande reportedly decided to send the camel to a farmer whose property had been damaged by French tanks.  It is not clear whether the camel was re-gifted by Hollande or if the family had been asked only to raise the animal on behalf of the president.  It is also unknown what exactly Hollande will do with the new desert animal when it arrives in rainy France.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Famous French Lawyer's Body Found Washed up on Shore

Hemera/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- One of France's most notable lawyers was found dead of an apparent suicide on Sunday.

Olivier Metzner's body was found at about 9:00 a.m. Sunday, floating off the shore of an island that he owned in Brittany's Bay of Morbihan. Metzner left behind a note, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office told Bloomberg News.

The 63-year-old Metzner represented a number of high-profile clients during his career, including former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. He also defended Continental Airlines in the case of the Concorde crash in 2000.

According to Bloomberg, Metzner began his career defending gang members and gained notoriety by getting his clients freed on technicalities. Financial law was considered his expertise.

The results of an autopsy will be announced on Monday, according to Bloomberg.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


US CEO Defends Criticism of French Workers

FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP/Getty Images(QUINCY, Ill.) -- Maurice Taylor, CEO of Titan International Inc., made headlines when he declined to invest in a struggling French factory because its “so-called workers” get high wages for working three-hour days. On Thursday he defended his statement but questioned why the French government would release his remarks in the first place.

Taylor, chairman and chief executive of tire company Titan, based in Quincy, Ill., wrote a letter to French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg, declining to buy a Goodyear tire factory that is being closed in Amiens, France.

“They’re very sensitive — the people in government in France,” Taylor told ABC News on Thursday. “Maybe they should not wear briefs and use boxer shorts instead.”

Taylor questions why Montebourg released Taylor’s letter that was in response to a query about the factory in Amiens.

“Politicians do things for political gain. He was hoping I would be the bad, bad American and it’s the French who stand up,” Taylor said. "He forgot or didn’t check that we’ve had a factory in France for years,” Taylor said. “The French workers there do a great job. The problem they have is that Goodyear plant.”

“I have visited the factory several times,” Taylor wrote in the letter, as reported by Bloomberg. “The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours. They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three. I told the French union workers this to their faces. They told me that’s the French way!”

Taylor said when he met with the union leaders, he told them he would not cut their wages but expected them to work six hours with a one-hour lunch and break.

“I don’t cut wages, but I take over. I’m a plant guy. We’re $2.5 billion company and we’re growing. Even Michelin’s wheel business, we own it. When everybody else fails, we step in and build it. We empower our employees. That’s what we do,” Taylor said.

According to Titan’s website, “Taylor was nicknamed “The Grizz” by Wall Street analysts for his tough negotiating style.”  He ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996.

“The workers of Goodyear would have considered themselves insulted had the author of the letter been someone credible,” the General Confederation of Labor, or, CGT union, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg from Wednesday.

Joblessness in France is at a 15-year high and the closing of the plant means the loss of another 1,173 jobs.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


French and Malian Troops Enter Timbuktu

ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images(TIMBUKTU, Mali) -- The coalition effort to drive Islamist militants out of the North African country of Mali was highlighted Monday by French and Malian troops entering the ancient city of Timbuktu.

While there were reports that the al Qaeda-linked fighters had fled the city, it was unclear whether joint forces had gained full control of Timbuktu, which had been in rebel hands for most of last year.

French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday evening that "French and Malian forces are liberating the city.  It’s not completely finished, but it’s well on its way."

Tragically, the militants allegedly destroyed mausoleums and manuscripts that date back to the 15th century.

Still, most Malians in Timbuktu were said to have been overjoyed with the arrival of government and French soldiers.

In other developments, secular Tuareg rebels, who are allied with the Malian government, claimed to have taken over the northern city of Kidal after Islamist fighters had abandoned it.

The French, who have many nationals living in Mali, began their offensive against the militants earlier this month when the Islamists began moving from their strongholds in the north to the capital of Bamako.

The U.S. and other nations have been providing the French with logistical support to prevent the spread of al Qaeda in the region.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Six Hundred More French Troops Arrive in Mali

ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images(BAMAKO, Mali) -- With air strikes having done little to stop the advance of Islamist rebels, France's military will increasingly engage the fighters on the ground in the North African nation of Mali, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian acknowledged on Thursday.

The rebels, who have ties to al Qaeda, have seized much of Mali in spite of attacks on them by French military jets.

As a result, French ground troops have been boosted from 800 to 1,400, and while there's fighting already occurring, Le Drian was hesitant to discuss where the battles were taking place in Mali.

Last week, it was reported that a few dozen French special ops forces embedded themselves with Mali government troops in an effort to stop the rebels.

The escalation of troops by France is a sign of how serious the situation has become while Mali officials anxiously await reinforcements from West African nations that have pledged to deploy thousands of soldiers.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


French Ground Troops Now Fighting Mali Rebels

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAMAKO, Mali) -- French ground soldiers are now engaging in direct combat with Islamist militants in the North African country of Mali.

With al Qaeda-based rebels threatening to take over the country, France has deployed ground troops to fight them in addition to launching air strikes.

A spokesman for the French operation said that armored vehicles were sent from Mali's capital of Bamako to recapture the town of Diabaly.

Although Mali has not been a French colony since 1960, there are still many nationals living in the African nation.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said from Paris that French forces were traveling north in Mali to take the fight directly to the Islamists in their own strongholds.

As the U.S. weighs the kind of logistical assistance it can offer the French in Mali, West African defense chiefs meeting in Bamako are discussing what types of troop support West African states can provide the Mali government.

It's believed that as many as 3,000 soldiers could be deployed, but because of the poor economies of certain governments, their presence might be limited to only three months in Mali.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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