By G9ija

The Mayor of the French city of Saint-Étienne has been taken into police custody on charges of blackmailing a municipal councilor with a sex video.

The same applies to four people from his entourage, the public prosecutor’s office in Lyon confirmed to dpa on Tuesday.

The judiciary has opened investigations for violation of privacy, serious extortion and misuse of public funds.

The investigation is about a video secretly recorded in 2014 that allegedly shows the former first alderman in a Paris hotel room with another man.

The alderman, whom the mayor allegedly wanted to end politically, is said to have been deliberately set up as a trap.

The investigative news portal Mediapart made the affair public.

However, the mayor initially denied all accusations through his lawyers.

The conservative party, The Republicans, of which the mayor of Saint-Étienne was vice-chairman until the end of last year, announced an expulsion procedure.

“The Republicans can only condemn the scurrilous methods used by the mayor of Saint-Étienne towards a political rival,” it said in a statement.

The methods were unworthy of a representative of the French republic, it added.