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The mayor of a small town in the Occitanie region of France has been hospitalized after he was stripped, robbed, and tied to a tree at a popular gay cruising spot.
The 67-year-old victim, who has not been named, was found by emergency responders in a car park on Chemin de la Loge in the city of Toulouse — a location known as a gay meeting place. His attackers had stolen his car and clothes before fleeing the scene, La Dépêche reports.
According to police, the man — the mayor of a small village in the administrative division of Aveyron — was attacked around midnight on Friday, Sept. 10, after getting out of his car.
Two people kicked and punched him, police said, before stripping the mayor of his clothes. They took the man’s car keys and then tied him to a nearby tree.
The attackers stole the mayor’s car and drove off, but subsequently abandoned it a short distance away and fled on foot, according to a witness.
The mayor suffered a broken nose and injuries to his head and arms. He was taken to Purpan Hospital and required surgery. He was still hospitalized as of Monday, Sept. 13, and had not yet been able to provide a formal statement, police said.
Samuel Vuelta Simon, prosecutor for the Republic of Toulouse, said that police are not yet investigating the attack as an anti-gay hate crime, but are instead focused on locating the attackers, who have yet to be identified.
“The reasons for the aggression still remain to be verified,” Simon said, adding, “The injuries testify to the violence of the aggression suffered.”
Carole Delga, the president of Occitanie, tweeted her support to the mayor, saying, “I strongly condemn such acts. Intolerance, hatred and violence are unacceptable.”
The mayor is not the first person to be attacked in the car park. In 2018, four gay men were attacked by the same person over a fifteen-day span.
In each instance, the man approached their car, offered drugs or cigarettes, and then threatened them with a knife and forced them to withdraw money from a nearby ATM.
Some of the men reported being beaten by the attacker, and at least one man was raped, France Bleu reports.
Police eventually arrested a 24-year-old suspect, who had a history of violent robbery and extortion, and at least one previous accusation of rape.
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