UN and French rights commission condemn state of emergency 'abuses'

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French President François Hollande on Wednesday told French parliament leaders that he will seek a third extension of state of emergency powers introduced immediately after the November 13th terrorist attacks in Paris which left 130 people dead. The announcement followed two separate and fiercely critical reports published this week, one by the government’s own official consultative committee on human rights which denounced "abuses" and the "devastating damage" of the special powers the government has granted itself, and another by a panel of United Nations rights experts who said the measure had created “excessive and disproportionate restrictions”. Jérôme Hourdeaux reports.

The shameful container camp for Calais migrants

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The container camp in Calais. © Reuters The container camp in Calais. © Reuters

Most of the estimated 6,000 migrants gathered in the French port of Calais in the hope of crossing the Channel to Britain live in dire conditions in a sprawling makeshift camp commonly called 'the Jungle'. As part of a longterm plan to raze the makeshift shacks and tents, the authorities have begun evacuating part of the site to build a camp with living quarters made out of containers that have no water or cooking facilities. Many migrants are refusing to move in to what resembles a prison, surrounded by fencing, watched over by video surveillance cameras, access to which is controlled by biometric readers. In this opinion article, singer and songwriter La Parisienne Libérée, who regularly commentates on current affairs for Mediapart in music and images, denounces a "shameful" project that has cost 20 million euros of public money.

Paris prosecutor admits SocGen 'entirely manipulated' case against trader Kerviel

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Jérôme Kerviel. © Reuters Jérôme Kerviel. © Reuters

New and compelling evidence has emerged to suggest that the conviction of the Société Générale’s so-called ‘rogue trader’ Jérôme Kerviel, who was jailed for his actions that were estimated to have cost the bank 4.9 billion euros, is unsound and was reached after a botched and biased investigation steered by the bank, Mediapart can reveal. The latter claimed that Kerviel’s superiors knew nothing of his reckless trades. But in a secretly-taped conversation, a senior magistrate with the Paris public prosecutor’s office involved in the case says the police officer in charge of the investigation was “entirely manipulated” by the bank, and that it was “obvious” that “the Société Générale knew” what its trader was doing. Martine Orange reports.

Former Qatari ruler's firm targeted by French 'money laundering' investigation

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Former ruler of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. © Reuters Former ruler of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. © Reuters

The Paris public prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into a suspected money laundering operation involving Qatari Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani’s French investment arm, French Properties Management (FPM), Mediapart can reveal. The probe, prompted by information from a whistleblowing former employee of FPM, is the latest to target the activities of the Paris-based firm, which is also cited in two other separate judicial investigations in France for “misuse of company assets” and “corruption and influence peddling”. Yann Philippin reports.

François Mitterrand and the gangrene of power

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This month marked the 20th anniversary of the death, on January 8th 1996 at the age of 79, of François Mitterrand, the first socialist president to be elected under France’s Fifth Republic. He served two successive terms in office from 1981 until 1995, during which time current president, François Hollande, and other leading Socialist Party figures received their political schooling. Mediapart editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel takes stock of Mitterrand’s legacy of which, he argues here, the socialists now in power have retained only the dark side.

French foreign minister's intriguing tax favour for film director Luc Besson

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French foreign affairs minister Laurent Fabius. © Reuters French foreign affairs minister Laurent Fabius. © Reuters

An unauthorised biography of Luc Besson to be published in France on Wednesday recounts that the renowned French film director and producer was granted an extraordinary exemption from a multi-million-euro wealth tax payment when current French foreign minister Laurent Fabius was finance minister. The exemption, claims the book, was agreed after the intervention of Fabius, whose sister and nephew were employed by Besson. Fabrice Arfi reports.

Bettencourt 'butler tapes' ruling strikes victory for press freedom and right to know

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In a landmark ruling on Tuesday, five journalists from Mediapart and French weekly news magazine Le Point, together with the former butler of L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, were cleared of invasion of privacy charges relating to the publication of the contents of secretly-recorded conversations between the billionaire and her close entourage of legal and financial advisors. The publication of the contents of the tapes, which lifted the lid on a web of corruption and manipulation, contributed to “debates of public and societal interest” and “without entering into elements of private life and family conflicts”, concluded the magistrates in Bordeaux following the trial of the six defendants last November. The full text of their ruling is presented in this report by Mediapart legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan.