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French sports minister put under investigation for defamation

FILE PHOTO: Weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) - French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera, who is spearheading the organisation of the Paris summer Olympics, has been placed under investigation for defamation, a public prosecutor said on Thursday.

The prosecutor, who is affiliated to the Cour de Justice de la Republique - a special tribunal for government officials - said the investigation resulted from a complaint by former French soccer federation president Noel Le Graet, who quit his post in February 2023 following allegations of harassment.

Le Graet has denied any wrongdoing.

Weeks before he stepped down, a French sports ministry audit concluded Le Graet was no longer fit to administer and represent the sport in France and highlighted what it termed "the inappropriate behaviour of Mr Le Graet towards women".

Following the audit's release, Oudea-Castera said in public remarks: "In the beginning, it was paternalism and provocation. But with time and alcohol, it turned into something completely dysfunctional."

An aide to Oudea-Castera said she was at the disposal of the court and had previously responded publicly to the "baseless allegations" against her.

(Reporting by Kate Entringer and Sophie Louet and Vincent Daheron; writing by Geert De Clercq; editing by Richard Lough and Ed Osmond)