French handball league chief faces sexual misconduct charges

4 days ago 24

PARIS : The head of France's LNH Handball league faces charges of corruption of a minor and recording of child pornography images, the Paris prosecutor's office said on Wednesday.

Bruno Martini, 52, who as a goalkeeper won two world championship titles with France, was questioned by police on Monday and Tuesday, a spokesperson for the prosecutor's office said.

He was then allowed to go home as his case was transferred to judges in a fast-track procedure for defendants who admit the charges they face, the spokesperson said.

Reuters could not immediately reach Martini for comment. An LNH spokesperson said the league would issue a statement after a meeting on Wednesday.

Franceinfo radio, which first reported the case, said the investigation dated back to a complaint lodged by a 13-year-old boy in 2020 and quoted Martini as saying he believed the boy was over 15 - the age of consent in France. Reuters was unable immediately to confirm this.

The case is the latest judicial investigation involving a high-level sports official as France gears up to host the 2024 Olympic Games.

French prosecutors said this month they had opened an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against French soccer federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet. Le Graet denies the charges, but opted to step aside.

Rugby Federation chief Bernard Laporte stepped aside last month after being convicted of influence peddling and illegally acquiring assets. He was questioned by police on Tuesday about allegations of additional financial wrongdoing which he denied.

Tony Estanguet, the head of the Paris 2024 Olympics organising committee, said on Wednesday he could not comment on ongoing investigations but hoped they would be resolved quickly.

"Let’s hope the investigations will be dealt with swiftly so we can turn the page quickly," Estanguet said.

He said there had been "no impact on the preparation of the Games".

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