New French Police officers stand at attention during a ceremony at the Police Prefecture in Paris, April 9, 2014. Christian Hartmann/Reuters
French prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation into two Paris police officers in connection with the alleged rape of a Canadian woman at the city's police headquarters.
France's interior minister said in a statement Sunday that both police officers, who haven't been named, as well as a third who is considered a witness, have been suspended pending the investigation's outcome.
Prosecutors are investigating an accusation of gang rape made by the Canadian tourist last week.
French media reports, citing police sources, say a 34-year-old Toronto woman first met the off-duty officers in an Irish pub close to the police headquarters on Tuesday.
The reports say she later agreed to follow them to their workplace.
The police headquarters, on an island in the Seine River, is home to Paris judicial police and is often evoked in France by its address, 36 Quai des Orfevres.
Officers released on bail
The reports say the woman allegedly left the headquarters distraught and told another officer that she had been raped.
Four officers were initially placed in police custody following the accusations.
The two officers subject to the preliminary investigation were released on bail Saturday, while the two others were released without charges.
The woman has undergone a medical examination and DNA samples have been taken, according to the reports.
Sebastien Schapira, a lawyer for one of the accused, denied his client did anything wrong.
He told The Canadian Press the officer had sexual relations with the woman but they were "consensual."
Schapira said the Canadian woman has returned home since laying the accusations, but he believes she should be in France while the investigation is carried out.
"We'd like her to come back to France," he said in an interview.
Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs wouldn't confirm whether the woman had left the country, citing privacy reasons.
France's Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said in Sunday's statement the two officers at the centre of the investigation will face the consequences if they are found guilty and that a disciplinary inquiry within the force is already underway.
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