French prosecutors said on Monday they had dropped a preliminary investigation on rape allegations against film director Luc Besson, but later confirmed that a separate inquiry has been launched following new claims of sexual aggression.
Prosecutors in Paris had opened an investigation last May, which according to police sources followed allegations by an actress that she had been raped by Besson after meeting him at a hotel in the French capital.
The ‘Nikita’ and ‘Taken’ director had denied the allegations.
The case was dropped after “numerous investigations,” the Paris prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
In another statement later on Monday, however, it said a new preliminary investigation was launched on February 21.
“The Paris prosecutor’s office received a claim last week denouncing an instance of sexual aggression,” it said, adding that police where verifying the allegations.
Besson’s lawyer Thierry Marembert could not immediately be reached for comment on the new investigation. He previously welcome the prosecutor’s decision to drop the rape probe.
“This decision follows a very thorough investigation carried out by judicial police, which [Besson] fully cooperated with,” Marembert said in the statement.
French news site Mediapart reported last week that an actress currently living in the United States had taken her case to prosecutors, alleging she had had to “escape” from Besson after he lunged at her at a professional meeting in 2002.
Under French law, that would normally mean the allegations would fall under the statute of limitations and could no longer be subject to legal proceedings.
Shares in Besson’s production company EuropaCorp closed up more than 11 per cent on news that the rape claim had been thrown out.