French justice minister jumps on far-right bandwagon in row over prison 'game show'

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A video showing prisoners go-karting and taking part in other competitions during an event imitating a popular reality TV show at France's second-biggest prison has caused a political row. On Saturday, justice minister Éric Dupond-Moretti waded into the controversy by promising an “investigation” into the event held at Fresnes prison south of Paris in July.  It was organised by the prison's authorities and had been approved by senior managers in the prisons department, part of the Ministry of Justice, while officials insist it received no public funding. In this opinion article, Camille Polloni says it only took a few politicians on the far-right to express outrage over the event for the justice minister to overlook the facts and to dance to their political tune.

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When you are France's justice minister, what should you tweet about in the middle of summer? No, not the overcrowded conditions in the country's prisons (60,000 places but 72,000 prisoners as of July 1st). Not the successive heatwaves that have hit prisoners and, to a lesser extent, prison staff. Nor the series of suicides at Nantes prison in the west of the country. Instead, on Saturday August 20th, Éric Dupond-Moretti found a more noble cause to do battle over: go-karting.