France Télécom bosses' trial: the witness for those who died

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Yves Minguy: 'When you have nothing left anymore, you are ashamed'. © Mathieu Magnaudeix et Hugo Vitrani Yves Minguy: 'When you have nothing left anymore, you are ashamed'. © Mathieu Magnaudeix et Hugo Vitrani

In an ongoing trial in Paris, the former boss of France Télécom, the now renamed Orange telecommunications giant, along with six of his former top executives, stand accused of moral harassment of staff in a brutal four-year cost-cutting plan to axe 22,000 jobs, during which more than 30 employees took their own lives, including by immolation, hanging and defenestration. At least 13 others attempted suicide, and many more were diagnosed with depression. One of the latter is Yves Minguy, a highly skilled computing engineer who, after 35 years with the company, was humiliatingly posted to answer the telephone at a customer call centre. He took to the witness stand last week and afterwards told Mediapart of the duty he felt to speak “for those who are no longer here”.

Paris prosecutors call for seven-year jail term for Sarkozy ally Patrick Balkany

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Patrick Balkany at the Paris courthouse on May 14th. © Reuters Patrick Balkany at the Paris courthouse on May 14th. © Reuters

Public prosecutors have ended their summing up in the trial on corruption, tax evasion and money laundering charges of Patrick Balkany, a veteran figure of the French conservative movement, mayor of Paris suburb Levallois-Perret, whose more than 40-year political career has been largely tainted by scandal. Unlike the leniency often displayed in political corruption cases in France, the prosecutors called for the 70-year-old to be sentenced to seven years in jail and barred from holding public office for ten years, prompting outrage from Balkany and his lawyer. Mediapart’s legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan reports on the hearing at the central Paris law courts.

The other pledges GE failed to honour after acquisition of Alstom

By Guillaume Clerc (Factuel.info)
Jeff Immelt, then CEO of GE, leaving a meeting at the Elysée Palace, June 2014 accompanied by then GE France general manager Clara Gaymard. © Reuters Jeff Immelt, then CEO of GE, leaving a meeting at the Elysée Palace, June 2014 accompanied by then GE France general manager Clara Gaymard. © Reuters

US group General Electric (GE) last month announced it would axe more than 1,000 jobs from its energy arm in France, most of them at its gas turbine plant at Belfort, in the north-east of the country, which it bought from French firm Alstom in 2015. The news, which notably came two days after the European elections in France, caused uproar among trades unions and local politicians, and follows GE’s payment of a 50-million-euro fine earlier this year for failing to honour its pledge, when it acquired Alstom’s energy division, of creating 1,000 jobs by 2018. Mediapart has obtained the contract inked by GE and the French state in November 2014 which set the terms for the sale of the Alstom business, and it reveals that the US group has also failed to honour other commitments towards its operations in France.

How the French Left can turn defeat into a way forward

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Can the French Left find a new focus from behind the tatters of the campaign? © (dr) Can the French Left find a new focus from behind the tatters of the campaign? © (dr)

The results of the European Parliament elections in France last month were an electoral disaster for the parties of the Left, which all trailed well behind the scores attained by the far-right and President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling LREM party. But, argues François Bonnet in this op-ed article, it was not all bad news for the Left, for amid the defeat came a clarification of where it lost its path and, with that, what it must now urgently focus upon to rebuild and claim back a place in the French political landscape.

French government caves in to pressure from food lobby over junk food

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French prime minister Édouard Philippe and agriculture and foods minister Didier Guillaume at the Agriculture Show in Paris. © Ministère de l'agriculture French prime minister Édouard Philippe and agriculture and foods minister Didier Guillaume at the Agriculture Show in Paris. © Ministère de l'agriculture

The food industry is happy with the French government's new food and nutrition plan which, from its point of view, has rejected the most worrying measures that had been recommended by health experts. And according to a document obtained by Mediapart, the industry is also opposed to the carrying out of a study into the health risks posed by eating ultra-processed foods. Karl Laske reports on the results of a joint investigation between Mediapart and consumer group Que Choisir.

It's a family affair: probe into Macron ally Gérard Collomb

By Nicolas Barriquand Et Mathieu Périsse (Mediacités-Lyon)
Lyon mayor and former minister of the interior Gérard Collomb. © Reuters Lyon mayor and former minister of the interior Gérard Collomb. © Reuters

The mayor of France's third largest city Lyon, former interior minister and key ally of President Emmanuel Macron, Gérard Collomb, faces a preliminary investigation for possible “misappropriation of public money” linked to city council jobs held by his former partner. One constant factor in the career of this powerful politician is that Gerard Collomb's partners have always worked close at hand. Nicolas Barriquand and Mathieu Périss from online journal and Mediapart partner Mediacités report.

French jihadists face Iraqi justice under the discreet orders of Paris

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From left to right and from the top, 11 of the 12 condemned to death: Yassine Sakkam, Fodil Tahar Aouidate, Karam El Harchaoui, Bilel Kabaoui, then Kevin Gonot, Léonard Lopez, Mohamed Berriri, and finally Mustapha Merzoughi, Salim Machou and Brahim Nejara. © DR From left to right and from the top, 11 of the 12 condemned to death: Yassine Sakkam, Fodil Tahar Aouidate, Karam El Harchaoui, Bilel Kabaoui, then Kevin Gonot, Léonard Lopez, Mohamed Berriri, and finally Mustapha Merzoughi, Salim Machou and Brahim Nejara. © DR

Twelve former residents in France – eleven of them French citizens, one a Tunisian – have now been sentenced to death in Iraq for having been a member of Islamic State. But whatever charges they face, the way in which Iraqi justice is being carried out in relation to the jihadists has raised major concerns, including among many French lawyers. As Mediapart has revealed, the ides of trying these French citizens and residents in Iraq was conceived in Paris where officials want the process to be carried out “without visible involvement by France”. Matthieu Suc reports.

Macron the destroyer of French industry

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macron-whirpool

In the immediate aftermath of the European elections, in which the ruling centrists lost to Marine Le Pen's far-right party, the French government has had to deal with impending job losses at three major industrial sites. It is, argues Martine Orange, the outcome of a deliberate policy by President Emmanuel Macron: the massive and organised destruction of French industry. Mediapart's finance and business writer says that as a result France runs the risk of being trapped permanently in austerity and unable to forge an industrial future for itself.

Industrial action grows in French emergency wards over lack of staff and beds

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The Saint-Antoine hospital in Paris where the protest began. © DR The Saint-Antoine hospital in Paris where the protest began. © DR

On May 25th some 200 emergency department nursing staff met in Paris to discuss their growing strike action, which has so far been largely ignored by the government. A national demonstration will be held in the French capital on June 6th as part of their protest over what they claim are overcrowded casualty wards, a lack of beds and a shortage of staff. Accident and emergency doctors are now also calling for a walk-out. Caroline Coq-Chodorge reports on a growing protest within the French health system.

How the creator of French version of #MeToo ended up in Paris court

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The Tweet that led to the legal action. © Twitter The Tweet that led to the legal action. © Twitter

French journalist Sandra Muller, the creator of the French equivalent of the MeToo hashtag, appeared in a court in Paris on Wednesday May 29th, accused of defaming Éric Brion, the former director general of the French TV racing channel Equidia. The case turns on a Tweet sent by the journalist accusing Brion of inappropriate behaviour. Christophe Gueugneau reports.

Two worlds collide as climate activists who removed Macron's portrait go on trial

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The six defendants arriving for court at Bourg-en-Bresse. © CG The six defendants arriving for court at Bourg-en-Bresse. © CG

Six people went on trial on Tuesday May 28th for taking down an official photo portrait of President Emmanuel Macron from a mayor's office in a small town in south-east France. The hearing put two contrasting world views on display. The defendants said that they felt compelled to act because of the climate emergency and the need to get a concrete response from the French state to the crisis. The prosecutor, meanwhile, simply saw them as criminals who wanted to impose their own ideas on other people. Christophe Gueugneau reports.

Le Pen's far-right party heads fragmented opposition at Euro elections

Results of the European Elections in France, in vote share and seats won. © Mediapart Results of the European Elections in France, in vote share and seats won. © Mediapart

The European Election results in France have confirmed that Marine Le Pen's Rassemblement National – the former Front National – is once again the main opposition in the country to President Emmanuel Macron and his ruling La République en Marche. But outside of that polarised duel the rest of the French political landscape has been shattered,with an abstention rate of 49%. On the Left the environmentalists came top with 13% while on the Right the conservative Les Républicains – the party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy – has collapsed, picking up just 8% of the vote. Stéphane Alliès and Lénaïg Bredoux analyse the results in France.

European elections: results and reactions

The European Parliament elections drew to a close late on Sunday, after which the new composition of the 751-seat assembly will be officially made known on Monday. Following elections already held in seven other EU member states beginning on Thursday, France was one of 21 countries that held the elections on Sunday, in what was seen as a test of the national political power balance as much as the future direction of EU policy making. This is our coverage of the election night in France, and the developments elsewhere in Europe, in an election that has visibly, in the words of one EU commissioner, "broken" the monopoly of power in the continent's legislative assembly.

European elections: where the French parties stand on defence and agricultural policies

The new European Parliament elected after final voting on Sunday will produce cross-national political groups, formed from alliances between the party candidates elected in each country. The parties standing in France, which has the second-highest number of seats in the parliament, will play an important part in establishing the political formations, which will have a key role in shaping future European legislation and the appointments to the key EU posts. So where do they stand on two issues that have been largely absent from the campaigning but which promise to occupy a central place in parliament’s future debates, namely European defence policy and the future of a common agricultural policy? François Bonnet and Christophe Gueugneau report.

European elections: how they work and what's at stake

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MEPs at a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 2019.  © Reuters/Vincent Kessler MEPs at a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 2019. © Reuters/Vincent Kessler

The results of this month’s European Parliament elections, which in France and 21 other countries are to be held today, will be a key test of political parties across the continent, where anti-EU, nationalist and populist groups have been gaining ground on traditional parties. For French President Emmanuel Macron, whose LREM party, strongly pro-EU, is fighting European elections for the first time, the outcome on Sunday will also be a test of the credibility of his ambitions for the bloc. But the polling also lifts the curtain on a series of new appointments to lead the EU’s major institutions, which will hang on the results. Ludovic Lamant presents a guide to how the elections work, and the detail of what’s at stake.