Film director Luc Besson accused of rape by actress: French judicial sources

French director Luc Besson poses on the red carpet upon arrival for the premiere of the film Eva presented in competition during the 68th Berlinale film festival in Berlin. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - Police in Paris have opened an investigation after an actress accused French film director Luc Besson of rape, judicial sources said Saturday (May 19).

"Luc Besson categorically denies these fantasist accusations," the film-maker's lawyer Thierry Marembert told AFP. "(The complainant) is someone he knows, towards whom he has never behaved inappropriately." Judicial sources said a "complaint has been made for acts qualifying as rape by the plaintiff which happened Thursday night into Friday in Paris," adding that Paris police were investigating the allegation against the 59-year-old.

Informed sources said the victim went to police on Friday to file a complaint against Besson, who notably directed The Big Blue, Nikita and Leon, after the alleged assault at the Bristol hotel in the French capital.

The sources said the complainant said she had been in a relationship with Besson for around two years, stating that she felt under an obligation owing to their professional relationship.

One source close to the investigation said Besson was out of the country and had not been questioned.

According to Europe 1 radio station, which broke the story, Besson's accuser said she had "drunk a coup of tea, then felt unwell and lost consciousness".

The station quoted her as saying that when she came round she remembered being sexually assaulted.

Besson, who heads the EuropaCorp production and distribution company, created the Cite du cinema studio complex north of Paris in 2012.

But the company has been battling financial difficulties over the past year with its blockbuster "Valerian" 3D space opera proving a flop.

Besson is a top name in the French film universe with 12 Cesar nominations and 17 films under his belt.

His 1998 effort The Fifth Element won him his only Cesar national award to date.

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