Centrist senator named Joel Guerriau from western France, has been arrested on Friday for Drugging a lower house MP with a view to assaulting her, in a case that has rocked France’s parliament.
Joel Guerriau was arrested on Thursday after the alleged attempted assault against MP Sandrine Josso, a source familiar with the case told AFP.
The Senator who is in the upper house of the French parliament, has been arrested for
“administering to a person without their knowledge a substance, likely to diminish their judgement or self-control, to commit a rape or sexual assault,” prosecutors said Thursday.
Josso felt ill after accepting a drink on Tuesday night at the 66-year-old senator’s Paris home.
Prosecutors said the two were not in an intimate relationship.
Tests revealed she had ecstasy in her system, investigators added, prompting her to file the criminal complaint.
“The initial information that I have suggests that it was ecstasy,” Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau told broadcaster RTL on Friday.
Guerriau was arrested and held in custody under caught-in-the-act rules allowing police to override parliamentary immunity, prosecutors said.
The Senate is the upper house of the French parliament.
Broadcaster RMC, which first reported the story, said police had searched his office and home, where prosecutors confirmed they found ecstasy.
Both the accused senator and alleged victim faced each other Friday during two hours of joint questioning by investigators, a common practice in France which is known as a confrontation.
Josso, an MP for the centrist MoDem party, “is still in a state of shock,” her lawyer Julia Minkowski, told AFP.
She said she felt unwell after drinking a glass of champagne and had seen the senator “grabbing a small plastic bag containing something white, in a drawer in his kitchen.”
“She had to deploy monumental physical and intellectual forces to overcome her terror and extricate herself at the last minute from this ambush.
“Added to this is a feeling of betrayal and total incomprehension — Joel Guerriau had been a friend for around ten years in whom she had complete confidence,” she added.
Guerriau’s lawyer, Remi-Pierre Drai, said the truth of the case was “very far from the indecent interpretation that could be deduced from reading the initial press reports”.
“The confrontation allowed my client to vehemently confirm his version of the facts, which do not indicate any offence at this stage of the investigation.”
Originally a banker, Guerriau has been a member of the Senate since 2011 and is deputy head of its foreign and military affairs committee.
Environment minister Christophe Bechu, a leading figure in the Horizons party of which Guerriau is a member, on Friday told broadcaster France Inter that “of course he won’t be able to stay if there is the slightest doubt”.
Party chiefs would hold a meeting early Saturday “where we’ll have the opportunity to discuss this situation,” he added.
Guerriau “will have to face the consequences if the least of this is true,” Bechu said.
Horizons is led by former prime minister Edouard Philippe, now mayor of northern city Le Havre and one of France’s most popular politicians since leaving office.
Like MoDem, the party is allied with — but not part of — the ruling Renaissance party of President Emmanuel Macron.
Philippe is widely tipped to run in 2027 to succeed Macron, who will be unable to stand for a third time due to term limits.
The former prime minister joined Guerriau on the campaign trail for senatorial elections earlier this year.