Why French anti-corruption services are cracking at the seams

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France’s anti-corruption services are over-stretched, under-staffed and under-performing, lacking both the human and material resources to effectively carry out the investigations handed to them. The problem affects both the judicial services and the specialised police units that carry out the in-the-field investigations into white-collar crime. Mediapart legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan reports on a deepening crisis.  

French PM's gamble to defuse student revolt against labour law reform

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Manuel Valls, with labour minister Myriam El Khomri (l) and education minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, meeting with student representatives on Monday. © Reuters Manuel Valls, with labour minister Myriam El Khomri (l) and education minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, meeting with student representatives on Monday. © Reuters

François Hollande’s expected bid for a new term of office in presidential elections next year is facing a serious threat from growing student anger over his government’s proposed new labour law. A string of national protests have brought student and trades unions onto the streets in recent weeks against what they see as a pro-business, retrograde reform that heightens job insecurity at a time of record unemployment. The perspective of a spring revolt prompted the government to present a package of measures for the young on Monday, worth a yearly 500 million euros and aimed at easing access to the labour market and to provide financial aid for the worst off. But while the measures were broadly met with approval, the student unions vowed to continue the battle against the reform. Faïza Zerouala reports.

A night with Nuit Debout, France's novel protest movement

Since March 31st, an increasing series of nocturnal sit-ins have taken over town and city centres around France. Called Nuit Debout, (roughly meaning ‘Standing Up Night’), they are gatherings of people of all ages who are dismayed by the political scene in France. They hold debates, spontaneous discussions, break out in song, swap books, eat together and hold occasional demonstrations. There is no official aim, and there are no official leaders, and no-one knows where it will all end. The movement began on the Place de la République in central Paris, in the aftermath of a demonstration against the government’s proposed labour law reform. Christophe Gueugneau and Michaël Hajdenberg joined the sit-in there this weekend.

The hidden address that exposes French economy minister's true colours

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An eye on 2017: Emmanuel Macron. © Reuters An eye on 2017: Emmanuel Macron. © Reuters

French economy minister Emmanuel Macron this week announced the launch of his political movement, En Marche, raising speculation that he was preparing a bid for next year’s presidential elections. Macron, a former advisor to socialist president François Hollande and who holds no elected office, declared that his movement was neither left- nor right-wing. But, as Laurent Mauduit reports, it is in fact domiciled at the private address of the director of one of the leading think tanks of French business.

Mossack Fonseca's key role in French corruption cases

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The Panama Papers revelations have rocked the world with disclosures of how Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca mounted offshore financial structures for the rich and powerful that enable tax evasion and money laundering on a staggering scale. Beyond the sensational cases emerging in the leaked documents, Mossack Fonseca is also cited in several judicial investigations into some of the most important corruption scandals in France over recent years. Fabrice Arfi, Karl Laske, Mathilde Mathieu, Yann Philippin and Ellen Salvi report.

Jobs or environment: the debate over plans to build 'EuropaCity' Paris complex

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Vision of the future: how the planned EuropaCity will look. Vision of the future: how the planned EuropaCity will look.

It is one of the largest development projects in the Paris region. The Auchan supermarket chain wants to build a vast shopping complex on farmland near Charles-De-Gaulle airport that will contain not just shops but a leisure park, a ski slope and cultural centres. Its supporters say EuropaCity will bring thousands of job to a poor, deprived area and serve as a blueprint for commerce and society in the 21st century. Opponents doubt the number of jobs it will create, say it will harm the environment, and argue that it is at odds with the commitments made by France and other nations at the COP21 climate summit held in Paris in December. Urban utopia or environmental nightmare? Jade Lindgaard reports.

EDF's own engineers oppose Hinkley Point nuclear project

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Plans by French energy giant EDF to build two European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) at the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant in south-west England have already triggered the resignation of the company's finance director, led to opposition from unions and raised doubts from France's financial watchdog. Now, Mediapart can reveal, in an unprecedented move a number of EDF's own engineers have also expressed their deep misgivings about the multi-billion euro project and called for it to be delayed. As Martine Orange reports, the engineers fear the Hinkley Point construction could threaten the group's plans to renew France's own nuclear power stations in the near future.

The victims who unmasked child sex abuse scandal in Catholic Church in France

By Daphné Gastaldi, Mathieu Martiniere et Mathieu Périsse
The priest involved in the scandal, Father Bernard Preynat, on far right in second row, at a church ceremony in Lyon in April 2015. © lyon.catholique.fr The priest involved in the scandal, Father Bernard Preynat, on far right in second row, at a church ceremony in Lyon in April 2015. © lyon.catholique.fr

In recent weeks a paedophilia scandal has engulfed the diocese of Lyon in eastern France. A Catholic priest is said to have abused dozens of boy scouts who were in his care, while the cardinal at the head of the diocese has been forced to deny covering up the affair. The scandal came to light largely thanks to the work of a group of victims who joined together and set up an association to break the silence surrounding the abuse. In the space of just three months this group has brought to light not just the scandal in Lyon, but has also unearthed other potential affairs. Daphné Gastaldi, Mathieu Martinière and Mathieu Périsse report.

Former Disneyland Paris stuntman wins court case over workplace injuries

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A former stuntman has won a case against the popular French amusement park after it was held guilty of “gross negligence” over safety issues. Former colleagues of the stuntman have also raised concerns about the level of training and safety equipment for performers in the well-known car and motorbike stunt show at Disneyland Paris. Mathilde Goanec reports.

Eco-protester had 'hands in air' when killed by French gendarme's grenade

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Tributes to the memory of student Rémi Fraisse, who died in October 2014. © Mediapart Tributes to the memory of student Rémi Fraisse, who died in October 2014. © Mediapart

Mediapart can reveal new evidence from witnesses that puts a different perspective on the death of botany student Rémi Fraisse during a protest against the building of a new dam at Sivens in south-west France in October 2014. Statements from several eye witnesses show that Rémi, 21, had his hands in the air and was calling on gendarmes to stop firing when he was struck and killed by an offensive grenade. Their accounts also cast some doubts over the version of events given by the authorities about the student's death. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan reports.

Caught on tape: savage beating by militants close to France's Front National

By and Thierry Vincent
Scenes from the graphic video showing the attack carried out by members of the French extreme-right group GUD. Scenes from the graphic video showing the attack carried out by members of the French extreme-right group GUD.

The head of the extreme-right French group the Groupe Union Défense or GUD in Paris, Logan Djian, has been placed under formal investigation for “aggravated violence” over the assault of a former head of the same group. Mediapart has obtained copies of nine video clips which show the full savagery of the attack. Mediapart can also reveal that investigators are examining where the 25,000 euros for Dijian's bail came from, amid suspicions that it came from a company set up by a senior figure in Marine Le Pen's far-right Front National. Marine Turchi and Thierry Vincent report.

How Belgium became a terrorist hub – and target

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The attacks in Brussels on Tuesday March 22nd highlight once again how Belgium has become a nerve centre of jihadist terrorism in Europe, as well as being a target itself. The Belgian network led by Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who led the November 13th bombings in Paris, was very active while the logistical 'expert' for the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, who was arrested just last week, is suspected of having been involved in planning the latest attacks in the Belgian capital. Earlier this year, meanwhile, Europol warned of the risk of more attacks. As Belgian authorities identified three men with links to the Paris attacks as the Brussels suicide bombers, Matthieu Suc and Yann Philippin consider how Belgium has become a terrorist hub.

Sarkozy one step closer to corruption trial as judges uphold phone tap evidence

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Nicolas Sarkozy's hopes of returning to the Elysée suffered a potential blow on Tuesday when France's top court approved the use of telephone taps that led to the former president being formally investigated for “corruption” and “influence peddling”. The decision by the Cour de Cassation to reject Sarkozy's appeal means that he could soon face charges and be sent for trial over the allegations, which concern his alleged attempts to obtain confidential information about another legal affair that involved him. Though he has not formally announced his candidacy for the Right's autumn primary ahead of the 2017 presidential election, it is widely expected that Sarkozy will stand. But the electoral road is likely to be tougher for Sarkozy if he is facing a trial on corruption charges. Michel Deléan reports.

French state in the dock over crumbling justice system

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 © Reuters © Reuters

The French justice system is cracking apart from the effects of a dire shortage of personnel and resources, with one of the smallest budgets, in comparison to national GDP, in Europe. Magistrates complain they are crushed by their workload, unable to fulfil their tasks. The chronic logjam of cases has often tragic humain consequences, as Michaël Hajdenberg discovered when he asked six magistrates from different jurisdictions across France to give their own accounts of the problems they face.

How Europe has allowed terrorists child's-play access to a devastating arsenal

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The terrorist attacks in Paris last year were back in the headlines this weekend after the arrest in Belgium of Salah Abdeslam, wanted for his part in the November 13th shooting and bombing massacres in the French capital. Those attacks, like the shootings carried out at Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Paris kosher store in January 2015 demonstrate the ease with which terrorists can acquire reactivated weapons, notably from Eastern Europe. In partnership with eight other European media organisations grouped in a collective project, European Investigative Collaborations, Mediapart exposes here how the European Union has turned a blind eye to the trafficking of improperly deactivated military weapons, as illustrated by the history of one such weapon used to murderous effect in Paris. Fabrice Arfi, Karl Laske and Matthieu Suc report.