Revealed: the violence of a French police unit and how they tried to conceal it

By
Officers from the CSI 93 police unit at Saint-Ouen north of Paris on April 2nd 2020 . © Ludovic Marin / AFP Officers from the CSI 93 police unit at Saint-Ouen north of Paris on April 2nd 2020 . © Ludovic Marin / AFP

A suspect detained by a group of French police officers north of Paris was kicked in the head, tasered and had excrement smeared on his jacket even though he was restrained at the time. Mediapart is publishing extracts from a report by the police watchdog which showed the scale of the violence meted out by the officers as well as the efforts they made to cover up their acts. Yet as Pascale Pascariello reports, only one of the five officers involved is due to face the courts over their actions.

The air pollution threat posed by Paris's 2024 Olympic Games preparations

By
The Pleyel à Venir collective, who are opposed to the new works, took part in the public inquiry in Paris in June 2019. © JL The Pleyel à Venir collective, who are opposed to the new works, took part in the public inquiry in Paris in June 2019. © JL

In readiness for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris the authorities are building a new motorway junction to service the Olympic Village for athletes. However, this busy junction at Saint-Denis, north of Paris, is close to a school complex for 700 pupils. French administrative courts have just approved the project, despite the fact that, as documents seen by Mediapart show, the junction is likely to worsen air pollution in the area. Opponents meanwhile point to anti-pollution measures taken outside schools in the centre of the capital and claim that pupils in the city's rundown suburbs are being discriminated against. Jade Lindgaard reports.

The Covid-19 dilemma for France’s overseas territories

By

While mainland France went into lockdown last Friday in an attempt to stem a new surge of the coronavirus epidemic, its overseas territories, with the exception of the Caribbean island of La Martinique, were exempted. The dire structural economic and social problems many have long been struggling with were exacerbated by the first total lockdown introduced earlier this year. But as the virus rapidly spreads, the overseas territories, with a total population of close to three million, face a dilemma that for many could end in a hammer blow. Julien Sartre reports.

Nice church attack: the trauma in a city again hit by terrorism

By Sana Sbouai
A message in tribute to murdered church warden Vincent Loquès. © Sana Sbouai A message in tribute to murdered church warden Vincent Loquès. © Sana Sbouai

 

The terrorist knife attack last Thursday against a church in the Riviera city of Nice, when a 21-year-old Tunisian murdered two women and the basilica’s warden, has deeply shocked the local population. For many, the traumatic events brought back the horror of one of France’s worst terrorist attacks, on July 14th 2016, when a truck was driven into Bastille Day crowds on the city’s seafront boulevard, the Promenade des Anglais, killing 86 people. Sana Sbouai reports from Nice where locals tell her of their mixed feelings of anger, fear and despondency.

The 'low intensity' terrorism targeting France

By
The cover of a 2016 issue of the al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) magazine Inspire, dedicated to “home assassinations”. © DR The cover of a 2016 issue of the al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) magazine Inspire, dedicated to “home assassinations”. © DR

The attack on a church in the French Riviera city of Nice on Thursday, which left three people dead from knife wounds, was the third in the space of a month in a long series of terrorist attacks in France perpetrated by lone knifemen who have often escaped the attention of intelligence services. In the jargon of those services, they are called attacks of “low intensity”, meaning of little means and organisation, but which have a major impact on public opinion. Matthieu Suc reports.

Libyan funding case: what Sarkozy told the judges

By and
Left to right: Claude Guéant, Nicolas Sarkozy and Brice Hortefeux in June 2005. © PASCAL PAVANI / AFP Left to right: Claude Guéant, Nicolas Sarkozy and Brice Hortefeux in June 2005. © PASCAL PAVANI / AFP

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was subjected to four days of questioning earlier this month by judges leading a complex investigation into evidence of Libyan funding of his 2007 election campaign, at the end of which he was formally placed under investigation for “criminal conspiracy”. Mediapart has obtained access to the transcripts of the interrogation, during which he insisted on his innocence and laid responsibility for any wrongdoing on his two longstanding, loyal right-hand men, Claude Guéant and Brice Hortefeux, describing their dealings with Libya and intermediaries as, variously, “incomprehensible”, an “error” and a “mistake”. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

Tariq Ramadan again placed under investigation in France for rape

By
Tariq Ramadan arriving at the Paris central lawcourts on February 13th 2020. © Thomas SAMSON / AFP Tariq Ramadan arriving at the Paris central lawcourts on February 13th 2020. © Thomas SAMSON / AFP

Tariq Ramadan, a once internationally prominent Islamic intellectual, theologian and academic until a French judicial investigation opened into complaints of rape filed against him in 2017, has again been placed under formal investigation for rape. Announced on Thursday, it is the fifth time that Ramadan, who has served preventive detention and now lives under restrictive bail conditions in France, has been formally placed under investigation, a move which implies serious and concordant evidence of criminal acts. Marine Turchi reports.

The MEPs shaping the Common Agricultural Policy and receiving its handouts

By
MEPs in a plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels, September 16th 2020. © AFP MEPs in a plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels, September 16th 2020. © AFP

Among the Members of the European Parliament are a group of farmers and others with agricultural interests who benefit directly from the subsidies provided for in the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The fact that many of them are at the forefront of negotiations to map out the reform of the CAP, to be put to a vote during this week, raises a clear question of conflicts of interest. Amélie Poinssot reports.

The online radicalisation of terrorist who decapitated teacher near Paris

By
A demonstration showing solidarity with murdered teacher Samuel Paty, held at Rennes in west France on Saturday October 17th. © Bertrand Guay/AFP A demonstration showing solidarity with murdered teacher Samuel Paty, held at Rennes in west France on Saturday October 17th. © Bertrand Guay/AFP

A few minutes after the horrific murder of Samuel Paty near Paris, his attacker Abdoullakh Abouyezidovitch A. posted a photo of the history teacher's head on his Twitter account. Mediapart can reveal that at the end of August the 18-year-old Russian-born Chechen had also posted a photomontage of a mock decapitation. It has also emerged that several people had flagged the youth's Twitter account to the authorities in recent months. Matthieu Suc reports.

Macron denounces 'terrorist attack' after teacher who gave freedom of expression lesson is decapitated

By
Police at the scene where the suepcted was shot and killed at Eragny near Paris. © AFP Police at the scene where the suepcted was shot and killed at Eragny near Paris. © AFP

The murder of 47-year-old history teacher Samuel Paty from near Paris who had shown his class caricatures of the prophet Muhammad as part of a lesson on freedom of expression has been greeted with shock and anger in France. The 18-year-old suspect, believed to be a Russian of Chechen origin, and named later as Abdoullakh Abouyezidovitch A., was later shot dead by police. Eleven people have also been questioned by police as part of an anti-terrorist investigation. President Emmanuel Macron, who visited the scene of the murder at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb north-west of Paris, on Friday October 16th said: “One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught ... his students about freedom of expression, freedom to believe or not believe.”

Nicolas Sarkozy placed under investigation for 'conspiracy' over Libyan funding claims

By and
Left to right: Brice Hortefeux, Claude Guéant, Thierry Gaubert, Nicolas Sarkozy, Muammar Gaddafi, Gaddafi's banker Bashir Saleh and Abdullah Senussi. © Simon Toupet / Mediapart. Photos : AFP / capture d'écran France 2. Left to right: Brice Hortefeux, Claude Guéant, Thierry Gaubert, Nicolas Sarkozy, Muammar Gaddafi, Gaddafi's banker Bashir Saleh and Abdullah Senussi. © Simon Toupet / Mediapart. Photos : AFP / capture d'écran France 2.

The decision by judges to place the former president under formal investigation – one step short of charges being brought – relates to claims that his 2007 presidential campaign was financed in part by the Libyan regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. In 2018 Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation in relation to the same inquiry for “illicit funding of an electoral campaign”, “receiving and embezzling public funds” and “passive corruption”. This new move by investigating judges means that for the first time a former head of state in France formally faces claims of “criminal conspiracy”. The ex-president denies any wrongdoing. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report on the latest developments in the long-running investigation.

Sons of former French PM face probe over hidden Swiss cash

By
Former prime minister Raymond Barre in October 2006, at a conference held by Crédit Agricole bank's national federation. © Bruno FERRANDEZ / AFP Former prime minister Raymond Barre in October 2006, at a conference held by Crédit Agricole bank's national federation. © Bruno FERRANDEZ / AFP

The late Raymond Barre was one of the best-known prime ministers of France's Fifth Republic and was publicly lauded by a president as one of the country's best economists. He was also forever associated with austerity and budget cuts during the difficult economic years of the late 1970s and spoke of the need of French people to pay their taxes. Now his two sons, Olivier and Nicolas Barre, have been placed under formal investigation over the “laundering of the proceeds of tax fraud” as part of a probe by French prosecutors into a stash of money that was hidden in a Swiss bank account by their father. Antton Rouget reports.

Sexual violence and harassment at work: the allegations of McDonald's staff in France

By
The  Saint-Barthélémy McDonald’s branch at Marseille in southern France was the scene of an industrial struggle by staff against the giant multinational. On October 18th 2018 workers were protesting in front of the restaurant and were already complaining about the violence of the 'McDo' system. BORIS HORVAT / AFP The Saint-Barthélémy McDonald’s branch at Marseille in southern France was the scene of an industrial struggle by staff against the giant multinational. On October 18th 2018 workers were protesting in front of the restaurant and were already complaining about the violence of the 'McDo' system. BORIS HORVAT / AFP

Mediapart and the website StreetPress have spent several months investigating the management of McDonald's branches in France. We have compiled a total of 78 testimonies from staff who describe a workplace in which sexist, racist and homophobic comments often feature, and even in some cases sexual assaults. The restaurant chain has been accused of turning a blind eye to the problem. It says that non-discrimination is a “cornerstone” of the chain's values. Khedidja Zerouali reports.

Fear and bitterness in France's care homes as second Covid wave arrives

By
Rules have been put in place to allow visits to take place in care homes, as here in Nice in the south of France. © Hans Lucas via AFP Rules have been put in place to allow visits to take place in care homes, as here in Nice in the south of France. © Hans Lucas via AFP

France's care home sector, which was on the front line of the Covid-19 crisis in the early part of the year, is now bracing itself for the second wave. A number of residential homes are already closed to visitors and in some areas staff have had to stop relatives climbing in through windows to see their loved ones. Amid the fear and anxiety about the rapid return of the Coronavirus, there is also growing bitterness among both care home staff and domestic carers that they have once again been overlooked. Angry representatives point out that their working conditions and pay have not been given the same priority as those of hospital staff. Mathilde Goanec reports.

The failings of France's ambulance service during Covid crisis

By
An ambulance call centre in Paris. © AFP An ambulance call centre in Paris. © AFP

Documents obtained by Mediapart show that during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic earlier this year France's ambulance service SAMU was slow to help some patients in urgent need of treatment because it was deluged with emergency calls. This organisational problem in turn led to reduced survival chances for some patients. Health experts fear that the ambulance service has not learnt the lessons from the springtime Covid crisis and that the same problems could reoccur during a second wave of the epidemic this autumn. Pascale Pascariello reports.