French minister in sex probe 'has pondered quitting'

PARIS, May 28, 2011 (AFP) - A French junior minister, accused of having sexually harassed staff of a town hall where he is mayor, said in comments published Saturday he has considered quitting his government post.

Civil service minister Georges Tron dismissed the allegations against him as fantasy, but told Le Parisien newspaper he did not want to be a burden to the government.

"Does the question of my resignation from the government arise? Yes, it would be idiotic to say otherwise," he said. But he did not feel under any great pressure, he added.

"If I have something to say or to announce, I will inform the president of the Republic (Nicolas Sarkozy) and the prime minister (Francois Fillon)," he added. Tron met with Fillon on Friday.

Prosecutors said Wednesday they had launched a preliminary investigation into the allegations after the lawyer for two former municipal employees in the Paris suburb of Draveil accused Tron of harassment.

"If the facts alleged are established, they could come under the headings of sexual aggression and rape," said prosecutor Marie-Suzanne Le Queau.

After examining the evidence, prosecutors can decide to shelve the case, refer it to an examining magistrate or send it straight for trial.

On Tuesday Tron told AFP that the matter was an attempt "to echo what's happening on the other side of the Atlantic," a reference to the sex crime charges in New York against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Other news