Claude Guéant, Nicolas Sarkozy's former chief of staff and interior minister, one-time national police chief Michel Gaudin and three other top officials who worked for the ex-president are in court this week, accused of misappropriating public funds by receiving tens of thousands of euros in cash payments. The money was siphoned off from a ministerial fund supposed to pay for police investigations. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan reports.
On Thursday February 5th illusionist Maximilien Veyssière is due in court for having organised a festival in the small village of Asquins, about 220 kilometres south-east of Paris, in September 2014. Asquins is next to the town of Vézelay, where the basilica of St Magdelene and the hill on which the town and church stand are classified as World Heritage sites by UNESCO. It was here in 1146 that Bernard of Clairvaux preached the Second Crusade, and where in 1189 the English king Richard the Lionheart and his French counterpart Philip II – Philip Augustus – met before embarking on the Third Crusade. Veyssière, 30, and his association had made sure they chose an isolated spot in the middle of woods for their festival, at a location several kilometres from the historic heritage hill itself. However the local prefect – state representative – banned the event and when last-minute legal action by the organisers failed to overturn the ban the authorities forcibly evacuated the area, to the disbelief of local people. These local residents, appalled by the disproportionate reaction of the authorities, have now rallied around Maximilien Veyssière, as these photographs and accounts show.