A mock coffin is displayed by striking taxi drivers
Paris - AFP
Uber France and two of its bosses will go on trial in September over the company's allegedly "illegal" ride-booking practices, prosecutors said Tuesday, after violent protests by taxi drivers against the app.
Uber France, its director general Thibaud Simphal and director for Western Europe Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty are being charged with "misleading commercial practices, complicity in the illegal exercise of the taxi profession and illegal use of private data", the Paris prosecutor's office said in a statement.
The two Uber bosses handed themselves in to police on Monday for questioning in relation to a probe launched in 2014 of the San Francisco-based company.
The investigation is targeting the UberPOP service offered by the company, in which clients are put in touch with cheaper, unlicensed drivers who are generally everyday people trying to make a bit of extra money.
The service has raised the hackles of cabbies around Europe who complain of unfair competition from drivers who do not face the same regulations as they do, and undercut their pricing.
UberPOP has been illegal in France since January, but the law has proved difficult to enforce and it continues to operate.
A taxi strike in France last week turned violent as drivers set fire to vehicles and blocked highways, creating a headache for thousands of tourists.
The French investigation is also targeting the casual UberPOP drivers for "illegally exercising the taxi profession", the prosecutor's statement said.
One UberPOP driver in France has already been given a 15-day suspended prison sentence while 79 other cases are under way. A total of 202 fines have been handed out.
The Uber managers will appear in court on September 30.
The taxi strike in France last week saw some 3,000 cabbies block access to the capital's Charles De Gaulle and Orly airports.
Ten people were arrested, seven police officers were injured and 70 vehicles were damaged in clashes between Uber drivers and taxi drivers.
And on at least two occasions in Strasbourg in eastern France last week, taxi drivers posed as customers in order to lure Uber drivers to isolated spots where they were assaulted by cabbies and their vehicles damaged.
Uber, which offers several types of ride-sharing services, claims to have 400,000 users of its low-cost UberPOP service in France.
Uber has become one of the world's most valuable startups, worth an estimated $50 billion (44.5 billion euros), as it has expanded to more than 50 countries.