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Wednesday, February 11, 1998 Published at 07:32 GMT

World: Europe

De Niro threatens to sue over prostitution investigation
image: [ Robert De Niro, pictured in 1993 with actress Uma Thurman,  was questioned  for nine hours. ]
Robert De Niro, pictured in 1993 with actress Uma Thurman, was questioned for nine hours.

The Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro has threatened to sue a French judge after he was questioned for several hours about an international prostitution racket.

BBC correspondent Hugh Schofield: no question of charges being made against him (2')
The 54-year-old American was released from a Paris police station on Tuesday night after being held for nine hours and interviewed as a witness on a warrant from investigating magistrate Frederic N'Guyen.

The inquiry began a year ago after the arrest of soft porn magazine photographer Jean-Pierre Bourgeois and former model Annika Brumark.

They are suspected of being behind a ring supplying high-class prostitutes for the rich and famous.

Procurement charges

Brumark and Bourgeois, who are facing charges of procurement, are alleged to have controlled around 40 women who went on liaisons with well-heeled businessmen in Paris as well as in Monaco, New York, London and United Arab Emirates.

The women were reportedly paid up to 20,000 francs ($2,060) plus travel expenses.

Mr De Niro's lawyer, Georges Kiejman, said he would be pressing charges against Mr N'Guyen.

He said his client had been willing to go voluntarily and he criticised the authorities for the way in which Mr De Niro was picked up and the length of time they held him.

Mr Kiejman, a former justice minister, said: "Instead of going through me the judge deemed it pleasant to send six or eight police officers to his hotel and to compel him to follow them in their car.

Shocking and illegal

"This is totally unnecessary, shocking and illegal."

Police first tried to detain Mr De Niro last Friday but found he had checked out of a luxury Paris hotel while making his latest movie.

Mr De Niro's spokesman Stan Rosenfield said last week he had no knowledge of the summons.

Oscar winner

The actor shot to fame after epic performances in the cult film Taxi Driver and won a best actor Oscar in 1980 for Raging Bull, in which he played 1950s boxer Jake LaMotta.

He has starred in dozens of top movies, including Angel Heart, Awakenings, Goodfellas and Casino and most recently appeared in Quentin Tarantino's latest film Jackie Brown.

De Niro, who got married last year, was in Paris to shoot a spy thriller called Ronin, directed by John Frankenheimer.

Other prominent figures who have helped the police with their investigations into the racket include French film producer Alain Sarde and former Polish tennis professional Wojtek Fibak.

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