The police hunt for climate activists taking portraits of Macron from town halls

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A protestor removes an official photo portrait of Presdent Emmanuel Macron. © ANV-COP21 A protestor removes an official photo portrait of Presdent Emmanuel Macron. © ANV-COP21

Since February this year the climate change campaign group ANV-COP21 has organised a series of symbolical 'seizures' or removals of the official portraits of the French president which hang in mayors' offices and town halls in the country. Their aim is to highlight what they see as a lack of government action against climate change. However, the authorities have shown considerable zeal in tracking down and investigating those involved and around 20 activists will be appearing in court. Christophe Gueugneau reports.

Police officers' version of events contradicts Macron over injured protester in Nice

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Scenes from immedately after Geneviève Legay fell to the ground after the police charge at the demonstration in Nice. Scenes from immedately after Geneviève Legay fell to the ground after the police charge at the demonstration in Nice.

When 73-year-old activist Geneviève Legay was seriously injured during a 'yellow vest' protest in Nice in the south of France on Saturday March 23rd the incident  quickly dominated the headlines. The French president Emmanuel Macron became involved, insisting that the police officers present at the demonstration had not touched her, a claim initially backed by the local state prosecutor.Yet on the very day of that demonstration a police report, a copy of which has been seen by Mediapart, stated the opposite. Mediapart has also gathered other testimonies which bolster the idea that there has been an attempt to orchestrate a lie over the incident. The state prosecutor has conceded that a police officer did make contact with the protestor, causing her to fall. Pascale Pascariello reports.

How France helps maintain Saudi navy as it blockades Yemen

By Eva Thiébaud Et Thomas Clerget
yemen26mars

A Mediapart investigation can reveal the extent to which the  publicly-owned French defence contractor Naval Group has been overseeing the renovation and modernisation of Saudi warships. This vital maintenance work has been taking place as the Saudi navy enforces a punishing blockade on Yemen as part of the ongoing conflict there. Meanwhile lawyers warn that any company that helps or supports the Arab coalition military effort in Yemen could potentially be seen as being complicit in possible war crimes. Eva Thiébaud and Thomas Clerget report.

The story of how France abandoned its Afghan interpreters

A book just published in France details the tragic story of how hundreds of interpreters employed by the French army during its operations in Afghanistan were refused safe sanctuary after it pulled out of the country, abandoning them and their families to threats of retaliation by the Taliban and other groups. While France is not the only country previously engaged in Afghanistan to have subsequently betrayed its interpreters – called tarjuman in the Dari language – the investigation by journalists Brice Andlauer and Quentin Müllern offers a rare insight into the hypocrisy and cynicism of governments, far removed and insensitive to those involved in waging their war on the ground. Mediapart publishes here a telling extract from their book Tarjuman, une trahison française (‘Tarjuman, a French betrayal’).

Revealed: how IMF chief Lagarde ducked Tapie fraud trial

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IMF chief and former French economy and finance minister Christine Lagarde. © Reuters IMF chief and former French economy and finance minister Christine Lagarde. © Reuters

IMF chief Christine Lagarde was called by French tycoon Bernard Tapie to testify as a witness at his current trial in Paris on charges of fraud over a staggering 2008 award to him of 404 million euros out of public funds. The payout was made while Lagarde was French finance minister, and followed her approval of a private arbitration process which has since been overturned. Washington-based Lagarde has declined to appear at the trial, where she would have been a key witness, apparently because of her busy agenda. Mediapart’s Laurent Mauduit has discovered that in fact Lagarde has every opportunity to attend the trial, but has instead decided to take part in an unrelated event just a few kilometres away from the Paris courthouse.

French luxury goods group Kering faces new tax evasion probe in Switzerland

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Kering chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault. © Reuters Kering chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault. © Reuters

Following Mediapart’s revelations about a vast tax-dodging scheme mounted by French luxury goods group Kering, whose brands include Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Stella McCartney and Balenciaga, a Swiss parliamentarian has lodged a formal complaint with the public prosecution services in Lugano to demand they investigate the suspected fictitious tax domiciliation of Gucci executives in the canton of Ticino, which is estimated to have saved the group tens of millions of euros in taxes and social charges. Already in January, Kering, owned by French billionaire François-Henri Pinault, confirmed that an offical investigation in Italy has concluded the group evaded 1.4 billion euros in taxes that should have been paid in in the country. Yann Philippin reports.

 

Macron security aide scandal: the forged documents and true lies

Alexandre Benalla (left) testifying before a French senate commission. © Reuters Alexandre Benalla (left) testifying before a French senate commission. © Reuters

The long-running and still unfolding saga of the scandal surrounding Emmanuel Macron’s former close security aide Alexandre Benalla has prompted serious questions over the French president’s judgement about, and relationship with, his bodyguard, and also the secretive workings of the Élysée Palace and its senior staff. Those questions are heightened with documents revealed here by Mediapart, and the account of a former minister and his senior aide – who commented that Macron's entourage "didn’t protect him sufficiently” from a young man whose rise to prominence in the presidential office almost beggars belief.

The tragic but inspiring story of Resistance fighter France Bloch-Sérazin

By Claude Grimal (En Attendant Nadeau)
France Bloch-Sérazin was a researcher in chemistry. © Private collection R. Sérazin, Marseille France Bloch-Sérazin was a researcher in chemistry. © Private collection R. Sérazin, Marseille

A book just published in France recounts the little-known story of France Bloch-Sérazin, a member of the Resistance movement in Paris who was arrested in 1942 and executed in Germany by decapitation just one week before her 30th birthday. Historian Alain Quella-Villéger’s meticulously researched biography is not only a moving account of an exceptional individual of outstanding courage, writes Claude Grimal, but also a homage to the engagement and heroism of women during the dark days of the German occupation of France. 

Army general denounces France's role in the Rwanda genocide

By David Servenay
'A fault that led to genocide': former French general Jean Varret. © Benît Collombat, de la cellule investigation de Radio France 'A fault that led to genocide': former French general Jean Varret. © Benît Collombat, de la cellule investigation de Radio France

Former army corps general Jean Varret is the most senior French officer yet to criticise France’s actions in the East African state of Rwanda in the years immediately preceding the 1994 genocide in the country. Interviewed as part of a joint investigation by Mediapart and Radio France into the events 25 years ago, Varret denounced the role and “faults” of a “military lobby” directing French policy, and how the warnings of the horror to come were ignored by his military and political masters.   

How Macron contradicted his own intelligence services over 'yellow vest' protests

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Screen grab from the Facebook page of Sergei Munier, a follower of former soldier Victor Lenta, at a 'yellow vest' protest. © DR Screen grab from the Facebook page of Sergei Munier, a follower of former soldier Victor Lenta, at a 'yellow vest' protest. © DR

When President Emmanuel Macron spoke to a group of journalists at the end of January this year he claimed there were “40,000 to 50,000 extreme militants” stirring up the 'yellow vest' protests, and he warned that violence was being orchestrated by political hardliners. Yet at the very same time the president's own intelligence services were producing an analysis which came to precisely the opposite conclusion. According to those security agencies, the ultra-right and ultra-left are “virtually non-existent” in the protest marches. Matthieu Suc reports on the president who appears to be ignoring or contradicting his own secret services.

In Mexico 'you can die just for being a woman'

By Marie Hibon
In April 2013 a man displays the photos of women who have died or disappeared in Ecatepec, Mexico. © Henry Romero (Reuters) In April 2013 a man displays the photos of women who have died or disappeared in Ecatepec, Mexico. © Henry Romero (Reuters)

Figures show that in the month of January more than ten women a day were murdered in Mexico. In some areas of the country, say women's rights campaigners, women are disposed of like “a piece of garbage”. Meanwhile to the dismay of local associations the new left-wing government in the country is not treating the issue as a priority. Marie Hibon reports on the appalling situation facing many women in Mexico.

UN condemns French police violence against 'yellow vests'

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Scenes at a 'yellow vest' protest in Nantes in western France on February 16th 2019. © Reuters Scenes at a 'yellow vest' protest in Nantes in western France on February 16th 2019. © Reuters

The United Nations has followed the European Parliament in criticising the policing of some demonstrations staged by 'yellow vest' protestors in France. The UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned what she called the “excessive use of force” used by the police on some occasions. The criticism came after interior minister Christophe Castaner's terse response to opposition MP Loïc Prud’homme after the latter was hit with a baton during a yellow vest protest last Saturday March 2nd in Bordeaux. Carine Fouteau reports.

'Algeria doesn't allow its youth to look to the future'

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A protest in Paris against a fifth term of office for Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. © Rachida El Azzouzi A protest in Paris against a fifth term of office for Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. © Rachida El Azzouzi

Franco-Algerian economist El Mouhoub Mouhoud has talked to Mediapart about the economic and social origins of the current Algerian revolt. He criticises the inertia of the regime under President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, which has put off structural reform and driven the country into an economic and social dead end. Rachida El Azzouzi reports.

President Macron's U-turn over repatriation of French jihadists

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President Emmanuel Macron on February 27th 2019. © Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes President Emmanuel Macron on February 27th 2019. © Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

Speaking during a recent debate with local councillors President Emmanuel Macron insisted: “No programme for a return of jihadists has today been drawn up.” Yet, as Mediapart can reveal, officials at the ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Justice have in fact been working since the autumn of 2018 on plans for the return of French jihadists held by Kurds in Syria. Matthieu Suc reports on the French government's change of heart.

How a French radio station kept hidden files on listeners

By Lou Syrah
Europe 1's studios on March 14th 2012. © Reuters Europe 1's studios on March 14th 2012. © Reuters

For nearly 20 years the privately-owned French radio station Europe 1 kept files and stored information on more than half a million listeners, sometimes with their details accompanied by insulting comments. This was detailed in a 2017 report by the French data watchdog the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) which has remained confidential but which has been seen by Mediapart. As a result of the report the radio station was given an official warning but the matter was never referred to the prosecution authorities, nor did Europe 1 have to pay a fine. Lou Syrah reports.