Revealed: De Gaulle knew facts of 1961 Paris police massacre of Algerians but failed to punish perpetrators

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Documents unearthed by Mediapart in France’s national archives, and never before published, reveal that the true horrific extent of the covered-up massacre by police of Algerian demonstrators in Paris on the night of October 17th 1961 was very quickly made known to then president Charles de Gaulle and his advisors. They show that de Gaulle had instructed in writing that those who perpetrated the crimes be brought to justice. But in the end, no-one would ever be prosecuted over the slaughter, which historians have estimated claimed the lives of several hundred people, many of who drowned in the River Seine. Fabrice Arfi reports. 

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On the evening of October 17th 1961, tens of thousands of Algerians held a defiant, pacific demonstration through the streets of Paris in protest at an overnight curfew imposed upon them earlier that month by the French capital’s police authorities.