The trial of 20 people accused of various roles in the series of terrorist attacks in Paris during the evening of November 13th 2015, which claimed the lives of 130 people and wounded more than 400 others, opens on Wednesday. In this interview with Mediapart's Matthieu Suc, the public prosecutor then in charge of the investigations, François Molins, recalls the night of the attacks, the aftermath and distress for victims’ families, and reflects on the successes and failures of France’s efforts to counter terrorism.
On Thursday March 4th 2021 the Cour de Justice de la République (CJR) – which tries cases of alleged ministerial misconduct – cleared former French prime minister Édouard Balladur of any wrongdoing in the long-running Karachi affair. At the same time it found Balladur's former defence minister François Léotard guilty of complicity in the misuse of assets and handed him a two-year suspended prison sentence. The verdicts were much more lenient than those for ministerial aides in the earlier criminal trial involving the same affair. Karl Laske wonders how long the hybrid CJR court, most of whose 'judges' are politicians, can survive.
Senior public prosecutor François Molins has concluded that former French prime minister Édouard Balladur and the defence minister who served under him, François Léotard, should be sent for trial for siphoning payments from public weapons contracts with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to fund Balladur’s presidential election campaign. Molins’s formal recommendations follow a lengthy judicial investigation into what has become known in France as “the Karachi affair”, a complex and far-reaching alleged corruption scam which surfaced after the murders of 11 French naval engineers in the Pakistani port city in 2002.
In recent months politicians and some senior legal figures in France have spoken out against the practice of encryption to protect people's data, emails and mobile phone calls, claiming it hampers investigations into crime and above all terrorism. Mediapart can reveal that a policy to force companies to leave so-called “backdoors” in their software to enable the security forces to bypass encryption was close to being adopted by the French government. But the data privacy watchdog in France warns that such measures would put people's computer security at even greater risk at a time of an increasing number of cyber threats. Jérôme Hourdeaux reports.
Mediapart can reveal how during the Paris terror attacks on Friday night security service agents hastily removed France's prime minister Manuel Valls from his home which is just 300 metres from the scene of one of the restaurant shootings. At the same time, however, witnesses have complained that it took police around ten minutes to arrive at the scenes of the shootings as the gunmen rapidly made their murderous passage through the capital without once encountering a police unit. Karl Laske and Louise Fessard report.
The man arrested after a thwarted attack on a train last Friday was known to intelligence agencies in several countries, including France. Yet Ayoub El-Khazzani, 25, was still able to board a busy Paris-bound train after acquiring an assault rifle and ammunition. Michel Deléan and Louise Fessard ask if European secret services again let a potential terrorist through the net – or whether surveillance on so many potential suspects is simply impossible.