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Corsica Police Chief fired after star's home occupied

Article published on the 2008-09-02 Latest update 2008-09-03 09:23 TU

Sarkozy in Brussels Monday(Photo: Reuters)

Sarkozy in Brussels Monday
(Photo: Reuters)

Corsica's Police Chief Dominique Rossi has been sacked because he failed to prevent the occupation of the holiday home of film star Christian Clavier, according to the French Interior Ministry on Tuesday. Opposition politicians are demanding an explanation, because Clavier, who starred in the 1993 hit The Visitors, is a friend of President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The Interior Ministry says that Rossi failed to prevent the occupation on Saturday by about 50 activists, despite a warning that they planned to break into the luxury gated community where Clavier's home is located.

Rossi, who was born in Corsica and speaks the local language, has been transferred to the police oversight body, the IGPN.

The nationalists, who lounged around the swimming pool for several hours, had just held a rally protesting against what they call the "looting" of Corsican property by well-heeled outsiders and government schemes that they claim will increase the trend.

The leader of the Modem party, François Bayrou, called the decision "arbitrary and disproportionate" and, in a reference to Sarkozy's personalised style of government, said it showed "what happens when all powers are concentated in the same hands".

"Just because Mr Christian Clavier, who is friends with the president of the republic, has a run-in with demonstrators at his house, we sack the co-ordinator of the whole of public security in Corsica."

"This deserves an explanation," agreed Socialist Party leader François Hollande.

Sarkozy was Interior Minister twice before being elected President in 2007.

Rossi's supporters credit him with a decline in the number of violent incidents on the island from 900 to 100 per year and the break-up of an important cell of armed Corsican nationalists.

He was awarded the Légion d'honneur in January. The presentation, by the President of the Republic, has yet to take place.