Sarkozy-Libya funding probe: judges investigating witness tampering denounce ‘case of major gravity’

Michèle Marchand and (clockwise from left) Hervé Gattegno, Ziad Takieddine, Nicolas Sarkozy and Thierry Herzog. © Photo Illustration Simon Toupet /Mediapart avec AFP Michèle Marchand and (clockwise from left) Hervé Gattegno, Ziad Takieddine, Nicolas Sarkozy and Thierry Herzog. © Photo Illustration Simon Toupet /Mediapart avec AFP

Documents to which Mediapart has obtained access reveal evidence suggesting how a witness tampering plot was mounted to discredit the case against former French president Nicolas Sarkozy in a judicial investigation into the alleged funding of his 2007 election campaign by the regime of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. According to judges investigating the alleged plot, it was “aimed at influencing the statements of a witness and to mislead, even to publicly discredit, the examining magistrates in charge of a case of particular sensitivity”. Fabrice Arfi, Karl Laske and Antton Rouget report.

French study identifies further grave illnesses linked to chemical pesticides

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A farmer in the Sarthe département (county) of north-west France, filling up his crop dusting machine with a glyphosate product for use on his maize fields, April 2021. © Jean-François Monier / AFP A farmer in the Sarthe département (county) of north-west France, filling up his crop dusting machine with a glyphosate product for use on his maize fields, April 2021. © Jean-François Monier / AFP

France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research, INSERM, has published a report on its studies into the use of pesticides and the increasing evidence of their causal effect on grave pathologies, including cancers, among farmers and also among children. Amélie Poinssot interviews toxicologist Xavier Coumoul, a co-author of the report.  

Post-lockdown, restaurant staff in France are saying ‘adieu’ to exploitation

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Margot, a waitress at the Café Jules in La Grande-Motte, southern France. © Cécile Hautefeuille Margot, a waitress at the Café Jules in La Grande-Motte, southern France. © Cécile Hautefeuille

In a gradual lifting of the restrictions introduced to contain the Covid-19 epidemic in France, cafés and restaurants were allowed to re-open in June after a lengthy period of closure. But employers report increasing difficulties in finding staff, many of whom appear to have decided, after months laid off, to quit insecure and demanding jobs in which they complain of being exploited and undervalued. Cécile Hautefeuille reports from the Mediterranean resort of La Grande-Motte.

 

'Rafale Papers': France opens judicial probe into fighter deal with India, new revelations emerge

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French armed forces minister Florence Parly with Reliance Group owner and chairman Anil Ambani (centre) and Éric Trappier (left), during the inauguration of the joint venture plant in Nagpur, October 27th 2017. © Money Sharma / AFP French armed forces minister Florence Parly with Reliance Group owner and chairman Anil Ambani (centre) and Éric Trappier (left), during the inauguration of the joint venture plant in Nagpur, October 27th 2017. © Money Sharma / AFP

A judicial probe into suspected corruption has been opened in France over the 7.8-billion-euro sale to India in 2016 of 36 Dassault-built Rafale fighter aircraft. In this latest of a series of investigations about the secret dealings behind the contract, Mediapart reveals how Dassault provided a remarkably generous financial gift to its local industrial partner Reliance Group, owned by Anil Ambani, a close friend of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

France probes fashion giants accused of profiting from ‘crimes against humanity’ in Uyghur labour camps

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Manifestation de solidarité avec les Ouïghours devant l’ambassade de Chine à Paris en juillet 2020. © Noémie Coissac/Hans Lucas/AFP Manifestation de solidarité avec les Ouïghours devant l’ambassade de Chine à Paris en juillet 2020. © Noémie Coissac/Hans Lucas/AFP

The French public prosecution services have opened an investigation into the suspected “receiving” of the proceeds of crimes against humanity by four major clothing and sportswear companies who are accused of sourcing supplies from the forced labour of members of the Uyghur population in camps in the Chinese territory of Xinjiang. François Bougon reports on the unprecedented French legal move.

French regional elections end in defeat for far-right and Macron ruling party

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The results of the second and final round of voting on Sunday to decide the composition of France’s regional councils was marked by a remarkably low turnout averaging around 34%, and the failure of the far-right and President Emmanuel Macron’s LREM party to gain control of any.  Mathilde Goanec and Ellen Salvi report.

Macron the 'Sun President' and his parallel universe

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Emmanuel Macron and Bernard Arnault at the refurbished La Samaritaine in Paris on June 21st 2021. © AFP Emmanuel Macron and Bernard Arnault at the refurbished La Samaritaine in Paris on June 21st 2021. © AFP

Monday June 21st marked the annual celebration of music in France known as the Fête de la Musique. But, says Mediapart co-founder François Bonnet in this op-ed article, the event was not celebrated in quite the same way by everyone. There was champagne and state honours for the rich and powerful at the Élysée on the one hand; and baton charges and tear gas for young people listening to music in the streets on the other. In what proved a bizarre juxtaposition, he argues, the French presidency managed to organise two entirely separate worlds, that only co-existed side by side thanks to social and police violence.

Sarkozy-Libyan funding case: the bizarre inside story of attempted manipulation

Nicolas Sarkozy on the news bulletin of TF1 television station, March 3rd 2021. © Ludovic MARIN / AFP Nicolas Sarkozy on the news bulletin of TF1 television station, March 3rd 2021. © Ludovic MARIN / AFP

In November 2020 Ziad Takieddine, a key witness in the judicial investigation into Libyan funding of Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 presidential election campaign, retracted his evidence. The apparent volte-face by a man who had previously said Nicolas Sarkozy had been corrupted by Libyan money in the affair was seized on by the former president's supporters as a turning point in the lengthy judicial saga. But Takieddine's retraction was not a genuine one. New legal documents seen by Mediapart – who originally broke the story of the alleged funding scandal - show the scale of the media manipulation used to help Nicolas Sarkozy. The former president's role in this is now at the heart of this part of the investigation. So, too, is the role played by the so-called 'queen of the paparazzi' Michèle 'Mimi' Marchand who is currently in custody in connection with the case. She has told detectives that her role in the affair was to: “Kill Mediapart”.  Fabrice ArfiKarl Laske and Antton Rouget report.

 

Family of slain Togo president seek France's help to solve assassination mystery

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Sylvanus Olympio, who was then prime minister of Togo, shaking the hand of French president Charles de Gaulle at the Élysée on September 16th 1960. © AFP Sylvanus Olympio, who was then prime minister of Togo, shaking the hand of French president Charles de Gaulle at the Élysée on September 16th 1960. © AFP

On January 13th 1963 the president of the West African nation of Togo, Sylvanus Olympio, who had been a prominent figure in that country's fight for independence from France, was assassinated in the capital Lomé. Though the killing shocked the world and marked the first coup d'État in post-colonial Africa, there has never been a proper investigation into who carried out his murder and why. Today, 58 years later, his family are still seeking to “know the truth” about Olympio's death. They are calling for access to France's official archives, hoping that diplomatic reports from the former colonial power will help shed light on this unsolved affair. Fanny Pigeaud reports.


French regional elections 2021: far right flops, Right does well and Left hangs on amid voter apathy

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Marine Le Pen gave a brief speech after her party's poor showing in the regional elections on June 20th 2021. © Hans Lucas via AFP Marine Le Pen gave a brief speech after her party's poor showing in the regional elections on June 20th 2021. © Hans Lucas via AFP

The first round of France's regional and département or county elections took place on Sunday June 20th and one of the major stories of the day was the record level of abstention, with nearly two out of three voters staying home. A year before the presidential election another key outcome was the poor showing of the far-right Rassemblement National (RN), led by Marine Le Pen, which despite doing well in opinion polls only came top in one region. Elsewhere the biggest winners of the night were the conservative Right, while the vote for the Left and the Greens held up better than many had predicted.  Perhaps the biggest loser of the night was Emmanuel Macron's ruling La République en Marche party which failed even to come second in any region. The second and final round of voting takes place on Sunday June 27th. Mathilde Goanec, Ellen Salvi, Lucie Delaporte, Ilyes Ramdani and Pauline Graulle report.

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Michèle Marchand: a woman at the heart of power in France

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Michèle Marchand at the Élysée in November 2017. © Ludovic Marin/AFP Michèle Marchand at the Élysée in November 2017. © Ludovic Marin/AFP

The “queen of the paparazzi” Michèle 'Mimi' Marchand, who is currently in the news in relation to aspects of the probe into Libyan funding of Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign, is reported to be close to Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron. She was a regular visitor to the Élysée at the start of President Macron's term of office in 2017, though became a more discreet presence after July 2018 and the emergence of the Benalla affair, when the president's personal security advisor Alexandre Benalla was videoed beating up protestors. Yet the influential position that the presidential couple granted her at the centre of power in France continues to raise questions, reports Ellen Salvi.

Sarkozy-Libya funding affair: paparazzi boss Michèle Marchand detained over alleged bail breach

'Mimi' Marchand photographed at the Elysée, November 15th 2017. © Ludovic Marin / AFP 'Mimi' Marchand photographed at the Elysée, November 15th 2017. © Ludovic Marin / AFP

French paparazzi agency boss Michèle Marchand, an influential PR fixer for politicians and confidante of presidents, has been taken into custody for breaching bail conditions. Earlier in June Marchand, nicknamed 'Mimi', was placed under formal investigation for witness tampering and criminal conspiracy in relation to an aspect of the long-running investigation into suspected Libyan financing of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential election campaign. But she was subsequently released on bail. However, Mediapart has learnt from several sources that she was taken into detention on Friday June 18th for apparently breaching a condition of that bail. Fabrice ArfiKarl LaskeYann Philippin and Antton Rouget report.

French footballers banned from wearing headscarves stage their own tournament

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A match at the Les Hijabeuses tournament at La Courneuve, north of Paris. © MC / Mediapart A match at the Les Hijabeuses tournament at La Courneuve, north of Paris. © MC / Mediapart

Wearing a headscarf or hijab during a football match is authorised by the sport's world governing body FIFA. But they remained banned for official games in France. A group of Muslim women players are fighting against this discriminatory policy and are calling on the French football authorities, the Fédération Française de Football (FFF), to change their rules. As part of that battle the group, known as Les Hijabeuses, organised a football tournament on the outskirts of Paris. Mickaël Correia reports.

How France's shameful deportations help Ramzan Kadyrov's brutal Chechen regime

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Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov. © (grozny-tv) Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov. © (grozny-tv)

In recent months France's interior minister Gérald Darmanin has ordered the expulsion of around a dozen Chechens from the country. This does not just trample over fundamental rights of asylum and the country's commitments under European treaties, says Mediapart's co-founder François Bonnet in this op-ed article. He argues it also means that France is effectively collaborating with Chechen's notorious leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a man accused of overseeing the murder and torture of his opponents.

Election funding trial: Sarkozy loses his cool as he seeks to clear his name

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Nicolas Sarkozy at the court in Paris, June 15th 2021. © Christophe Archambault/AFP Nicolas Sarkozy at the court in Paris, June 15th 2021. © Christophe Archambault/AFP

The former French president Nicolas Sarkozy appeared in court for the first time yesterday, June 15th, for the trial in which he and 13 others face charges over the massive overspend during his failed presidential election campaign in 2012. The ex-head of state conceded some responsibility in the way his campaign was conducted. But, showing clear signs of irritation, Nicolas Sarkozy strongly denied that he had committed any financial irregularities himself. And instead he pointed the finger at supporters of Jean-François Copé, who at the time was head of Sarkozy's political party the UMP.  Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan was in court in Paris to hear the former president give evidence.