French Interior Ministry accused of meddling with Nice attack report

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A senior policewoman has accused the French Interior Ministry of pressuring her to change a report on police presence during the Nice attack. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has denied the charge.

Sandra Bertin, the officer in charge of video surveillance in Nice, claims the minister called her on the phone and “harassed for an hour” over her account of the attack that claimed 84 lives on July 14.

In a weekend interview to the “Journal du Dimanche” newspaper, Bertin said she reported the local police presence during the Bastille Day fireworks. However, she was pressured to put in “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,” she told the newspaper.

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Minister to sue

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has acknowledged that no national police were protecting the promenade during the last week’s attack.

However, he categorically denies talking to the policewoman, “contrary to what Madame Bertin claims.”

Cazeneuve also said he would sue over “grave accusations” made by Bertin. He described the claims as “undignified” and said he was committed to uncovering the truth.

Christian Estrosi, the former mayor of Nice, also accused the government of lying over the number of security forces deployed in Nice on the night of the attack.

At the same time, national police chief Jean-Marc Falcone backed Cazeneuve saying “the manipulations attacking the national police, its leaders and its minister must stop.”

Deleting CCTV feeds

The interior minister has faced harsh criticism over the events in Nice, the third major attack to hit France in the last 18 months. Some far-right politicians have called for his resignation.

French prosecutors also sparked anger with a demand to delete security camera videos of the attack. While local authorities said it amounted to “destruction of proof,” prosecutors claimed it was to stop “shocking” images from leaking out.

Local officials have said they would keep their own copies of the security feeds.

dj/cmk (AFP, AP)

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