In what police believe were the latest killings in a vicious war between drug gangs in Marseille, three men were murdered when their car was fired upon in the early hours of Sunday, bringing the total of drug-related deaths so far this year in the southern French port city to 21.
Two victims aged 25 and 26 were killed in the first shootout around midnight in the 14th district of the city; elsewhere, a 27 year-old man was kidnapped in the 4th district after a second shootout and was burnt alive in his car.
Large numbers of packages containing what the authorities describe as 'very pure cocaine' along with other drugs have been found on beaches along a lengthy strip of France's Atlantic coast over recent weeks, with those found so far estimated to have a potential street value of about 60 million euros.
Dozens of Moroccan youths roam the Goutte d'Or district of Paris, where they are both the authors and victims of violence and have been making life a misery for local inhabitants. Unable to cope, over the summer the French authorities called on Moroccan police officers to help arrange possible repatriation of some of the youngsters. Rachida El Azzouzi and Mathilde Mathieu report on a policy that has alarmed some local support groups.
Michael Blanc, now aged 45, was arrested on Boxing Day in 1999 with 3.8 kilogrammes of hashish hidden inside scuba diving canisters, which he claimed he was unaware of, and after becoming a cause célèbre in France notably through the determined campaign of his mother who fiercely protested his innocence, narrowly escaped the death penalty before finally arriving back in Europe.
The room in northern Paris, which is expected to be used by about 100 addicts daily after it opens on Friday and which is entirely financed by the French health minsistry, will provide clean needles and operate under medical supervision.
On Tuesday February 2nd France's pharmaceuticals giant Sanofi announced that it would be shedding up to 600 jobs over three years. Just before Christmas another drug maker, Servier, revealed that more than 600 posts will go, while Swiss company Novartis is also discreetly losing up to 200 positions in France. The news of the job losses comes despite the fact that some of the firms are not only profitable but have also been picking up taxpayers' cash aimed at protecting employment. Mathilde Goanec reports.
For many years successive French governments have opposed the decriminalisation of cannabis, unlike many other countries. However, France did recently bring in on-the-spot police fines in a bid to simplify procedures and avoid lengthy and costly court cases for cannabis users. However, this new approach will not end the disparities and lack of coherence in the existing repressive policy, under which prosecution for using cannabis depends as much on who you are and where you live as on what you smoke. Michaël Hajdenberg reports.