French political intrigue behind escape of Dominican Republic 'cocaine' pilots

L'eurodéputé FN Aymeric Chauprade et les deux pilotes. © Twitter / a_chauprade L'eurodéputé FN Aymeric Chauprade et les deux pilotes. © Twitter / a_chauprade

Revelations about the dramatic escape by two French pilots from the Dominican Republic made headlines in France this week. The two men, convicted of cocaine trafficking, fled the Caribbean country thanks to a well-organised plan while they were on house arrest pending an appeal. But the affair took on a political flavour, too, as anger rose in the Dominican Republic about the pilots' escape and amid claims that some French government agencies were involved. In particular a Euro MP and close ally of Marine Le Pen has belatedly admitted that he was directly involved in the extraction operation. Michel Deléan, Louise Fessard and Marine Turchi report.

The web activists 'debugging' France's surveillance laws

Internet activists-turned lawyers are using computer and coding skills to find errors or “bugs” lurking in France's growing array of surveillance and intelligence laws. Calling themselves “amateur scholars”, they have so far drawn up around ten legal challenges as a result of their work. As Michel Deléan and Jérôme Hourdeaux report, these 'hacktivists' are in the vanguard of numerous judicial challenges to this controversial snooping legislation.

A year on, probe into death of French dam protester stalls

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Rémi Fraisse © DR Rémi Fraisse © DR

In October 2014 student Rémi Fraisse was killed by a grenade thrown by a gendarme during a protest over plans to build a dam at Sivens in south-west France. A year later the judicial investigation into the 21-year-old's death has become bogged down. Investigators have sifted through the victim's background but, as Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan reports, they seem no closer to placing any officers under formal investigation or even examining the instructions that those officers were given from on high.

Did going back to work kill this French pensioner?

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Despite his poor health Raymond, aged 75, felt obliged to find a job ten years after retiring because his pension was so small and he faced mounting debts. Yet he was given no medical test before he started delivering leaflets for distribution company Adrexo near Paris. Within days Raymond was dead after suffering a heart attack. His son has now taken the company to an industrial tribunal claiming it did not fulfil its legal obligations. Michaël Hajdenberg reports.

What Calais residents really think about the migrant crisis

By Haydée Sabéran
Une boutique dans la « New Jungle », le 16 octobre 2015 © Philippe Wojazer / Reuters Une boutique dans la « New Jungle », le 16 octobre 2015 © Philippe Wojazer / Reuters

In just a year the number of migrants living in the so-called 'New Jungle' camp at Calais in north-east France waiting to get to the UK has doubled to around 6,000. The migrant question has now become a key issue in December's regional elections, with the head of the far-right Front National, Marine Le Pen, standing for the region that includes Calais. But what do the town's residents think about the migrants and their plight? As Haydée Sabéran found out, it is a complex picture.

Legal battle over Muslims' access to pork-free school lunches in France

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With the support of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, a right-wing mayor in eastern France is stopping the provision of alternative meals for Muslim pupils in his town's school canteens when pork is on the menu. Mediapart's Michaël Hajdenberg was in court to hear an attempt by a Muslim organisation to get this controversial decision stopped.

The reasons behind France's recurrent deadly floods

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 © Reuters © Reuters

Earlier this month, exceptional rainfall caused flash floods in south-east France that swept through the streets of towns and villages, killing 20 people and causing an estimated 500 million euros of damage. It was the latest in a long list of major catastrophic flooding disasters in the country over the past 27 years. As Michel de Pracontal reports, neither fate nor surprise events explain the causes, but rather the incapacity of public authorities to tackle the prevalent dangers, due in no small part to both rampant urbanisation and bureaucratic nonsense.

How Sarkozy's march back to power reached a blind alley

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 © Reuters © Reuters

Nicolas Sarkozy’s official return to politics last year, when he was elected head of his conservative opposition party, was, his supporters believed, the start of a relatively easy march back to power in elections due in 2017. But the wily former French president, once considered a masterful political tactician, appears to have lost his grip, unable to offer policy initiatives and mired in infighting and scandal. Ellen Salvi hears from party insiders in this analysis of where it has all gone wrong for the man who, a former aide admits, “wants to regain power for the sake of regaining power”.