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France investigates government minister over rape claims

Zacharopoulou had campaigned for greater public awareness of endometriosis

Zacharopoulou had campaigned for greater public awareness of endometriosis

A minister in French President Emmanuel Macron's government is facing a rape investigation dating back to her previous work in the medical field.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that they launched a probe two days after receiving a first complaint on May 25. One more complaint has been registered last week.

Zacharopoulou currently serves as state secretary of development, Francophonie, and international partnerships.

Minister active in reproductive health campaigns, vaccination programs

The 46-year-old Zacharopoulou was born in Greece, studied in Italy, and worked in France as a gynecologist. In 2015, she became known by campaigning for more awareness of endometriosis, a serious and often painful condition which affects female reproductive organs. Zacharopoulou also publicly spoke in favor of women's reproductive rights, and was involved in the UN's COVAX initiative to help distribute vaccines to developing nations.

Zacharopoulou has spent three years as a lawmaker in the European Parliament before joining the cabinet led by Elisabeth Borne in last month. She is a member of Emmanuel Macron's party Renaissance, previously known as LREM or La Republique En Marche.

Macron scrambles to prop up government

The probe against Zacharopoulou is not the first to hit Borne's government — Minister for Solidarity and the Disabled Damien Abad is also fending off accusations of rape made by two women. He has denied any wrongdoing and said he would not resign from his post.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin was also under investigation over rape allegations filed in 2017, although prosecutors have since asked for the case to be dropped.

The latest scandal is likely to deal another blow to French President Emmanuel Macron, whose Ensemble bloc lost its parliamentary majority this weekend. Macron is now seeking new allies to prop up Borne's cabinet.

dj/rt (AFP, Reuters)