Tariq Ramadan again placed under investigation in France for rape

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

The ill-informed debate behind France’s lifting of neonicotinoids ban

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A protest by the Extinction Rebellion movement during the parliamentary debates over the partial lifting of the ban on the use of neonicotinoids, October 5th 2020. © NurPhoto/AFP A protest by the Extinction Rebellion movement during the parliamentary debates over the partial lifting of the ban on the use of neonicotinoids, October 5th 2020. © NurPhoto/AFP

The French parliament earlier this week approved a three-year exemption for sugar beet growers from a ban on the use of a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids. The sugar beet sector has argued that its future was at stake because it was otherwise unarmed to counter the loss of crops caused by an aphid-borne virus disease. But the move outraged environmentalists who point to the inevitable effects of soil and water contamination by neonicotinoids, which are notably harmful for bees, and the dangers for human health. Amélie Poinssot highlights the ill-informed arguments presented in parliament in favour of a return of the controversial pesticides.

French Christian NGO's links to pro-Assad Syrian militia

By , Elie Guckert and Frank Andrews
SOS Chrétiens d’Orient's former head of mission Alexandre Goodarzy (in blue and topless) and its co-founder Benjamin Blanchard (in orange) posing in a Syrian house with a rocket launcher, a Kalashnikov and machine guns.  © Document Mediapart SOS Chrétiens d’Orient's former head of mission Alexandre Goodarzy (in blue and topless) and its co-founder Benjamin Blanchard (in orange) posing in a Syrian house with a rocket launcher, a Kalashnikov and machine guns. © Document Mediapart

French Catholic association SOS Chrétiens d’Orient (SOS Christians of the Orient) claims to help Christians in Syria without interfering in the conflict that for nine years has been tearing the country apart. But as an investigation for Mediapart has already shown, it has forged close relations with bodies and people supporting the Damascus regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. And as this second investigation reveals, the NGO - which for several years has been a 'National Defence Partner' of France's Ministry of Armed Forces – also supports pro-Assad militia.

French justice minister Éric Dupond-Moretti faces legal complaint over conflict of interest

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Justice minister Éric Dupond-Moretti, September 24th, 2020. © Alain JOCARD / AFP Justice minister Éric Dupond-Moretti, September 24th, 2020. © Alain JOCARD / AFP

An anti-corruption activist has lodged a formal complaint against France's new justice minister Éric Dupond-Moretti, accusing the latter of an unlawful conflict of interest. The complaint has been made to the Cour de Justice de la République, a special court which deals with allegations of unlawful actions by ministers in the course of their official duties. The move follows a call by the justice minister for three prosecutors from the country's financial crimes prosecution unit to face disciplinary action. This is despite the fact that just a few weeks ago Dupond-Moretti, then a barrister, had made a formal complaint against those very same prosecutors. Fabrice Arfi and Michel Deléan report

New Caledonia independence leader accuses Paris of meddling ahead of vote

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New Caledonia pro-independence leader Jean-Pierre Djaïwé. © Le Pays New Caledonia pro-independence leader Jean-Pierre Djaïwé. © Le Pays

The inhabitants of the semi-autonomous South Pacific French territory of New Caledonia are to vote on Sunday in a referendum on whether they want full independence from France, which colonised the archipelago in the mid-19th century. In a similar referendum in 2018, nearly 57% of votes cast were against cutting ties with Paris. Can the pro-independence movement swing the result in their favour this time around? Joseph Confavreux interviews New Caledonia's prominent pro-independence political leader Jean-Pierre Djaïwé.  

French NGO 'Christians of the Orient' and its ties with the Assad regime

By , Elie Guckert and Frank Andrews
'Believe in Aleppo', a 2017 PR stunt in the war-ravaged Syrian city of Aleppo, organised by the Damascus authorities with the help of SOS Chrétiens d’Orient. © DR 'Believe in Aleppo', a 2017 PR stunt in the war-ravaged Syrian city of Aleppo, organised by the Damascus authorities with the help of SOS Chrétiens d’Orient. © DR

French association SOS Chrétiens d’Orient (SOS Christians of the Orient) is a self-declared "apolitical" not-for-profit NGO, which sends volunteers and staff across the Middle East with the stated aim of supporting the region’s persecuted Christians, notably in Syria. But, as this investigation for Mediapart reveals, its links with the French far-right and its close relations with bodies and people supporting the Damascus regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad raise disturbing questions about its mission.


The mystery of French foreign minister's letter behind sinking of LVMH-Tiffany deal

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French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaking in parliament, September 22nd. © THOMAS COEX / AFP French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaking in parliament, September 22nd. © THOMAS COEX / AFP

An opportune letter sent by French foreign affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to LVMH luxury goods group boss Bernard Arnault gave the latter a justification for pulling out of a costly acquisition of US jewellers Tiffany that was agreed before the economic meltdown from the Covid-19 pandemic. According to LVMH, Le Drian, citing a looming tariffs dispute with the US, asked for the 16.6 billion-dollar deal to be halted. Curiously, the letter has never been made public. As Martine Orange reports, it is now at the heart of a legal battle between Tiffany and LVMH to be played out at a trial in the US in January, and threatens to become a major embarrassment for the French government.