Justice

Judge slaps gagging order on Mediapart investigation

Médias

A Paris judge has imposed a gagging order on Mediapart which prohibits it from publishing new revelations in its investigation into the highly questionable political practices of Gaël Perdriau, mayor of Saint-Étienne. The Mediapart investigation has previously revealed the blackmailing of the town’s deputy mayor, a rival of Perdriau's, using a compromising ‘sex tape’ video. As Mediapart’s publishing editor Edwy Plenel details here, the gagging order, which was made at the request of Perdriau and without allowing Mediapart any legal opportunity to oppose it, is an unprecedented attack against the freedom of the press in France. 

Denying French visa to journalist Hussam Hammoud would 'gift a victory to Islamic State'

Justice — Report

The Turkish-based Syrian journalist and Mediapart contributor Hussam Hammoud was refused a visa by the French authorities on September 5th. A month later, on Wednesday October 5th, his legal team appeared at the administrative court in Nantes to appeal against this decision. The journalist's lawyers highlighted the vague approximations and errors in the arguments used by France's Ministry of the Interior to refuse him the humanitarian visa and called for the application to be looked at again. François Bougon reports.

Why Macron must bear responsibility as his justice minister faces trial for conflict of interest

Justice — Opinion

For the first time in French political and legal history, a serving justice minister has been sent for trial before the Cour de Justice de la République. Éric Dupond-Moretti will appear before the CJR – the special court that deals with the alleged offences of ministers while in office – accused of an unlawful conflict of interest. He is said to have put pressure on anti-corruption prosecutors and a judge. However, argues Fabrice Arfi in this op-ed article, President Emmanuel Macron must also accept a major share of the responsibility for the affair. It was the head of state who appointed the former high-profile and outspoken lawyer to the post - and who then chose to keep him in office after the allegations first broke.

What the hard disk of close Sarkozy ally reveals about the Gaddafi funding affair

Justice — Investigation

In what appears to be a significant development in the French judicial investigation into the suspected illegal financing of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential election campaign by the regime of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the probe has discovered evidence pointing to the involvement in the alleged funding of Thierry Gaubert, a longstanding friend and political ally of the former French president. This centres on the contents of a computer hard disk belonging to Gaubert, seized in 2011 in a separate case concerning him, and which have only now come to light. In this first of a two-part report, Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske detail the findings and their implications for Sarkozy.

When Macron sent a twice-convicted man to represent France at Abe’s funeral

Justice — Analysis

At the request of Emmanuel Macron, Nicolas Sarkozy travelled to Tokyo to represent France at the state funeral on Tuesday of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe. That was despite the fact that the former French president has two convictions, and notably one for corruption, and that he is currently placed under investigation for “criminal conspiracy”, “corruption”, “illicit campaign financing” and “receiving the proceeds of the misappropriation of public funds” in relation to the alleged Libyan funding of his 2007 election campaign. Fabrice Arfi and Ilyes Ramdani report.

Key Gaddafi aides add new evidence in Sarkozy funding investigation

Justice — Investigation

Bashir Saleh, the former chief of staff to the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, has given a statement to the public prosecution services of Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Unity saying that he was informed how Nicolas Sarkozy directly asked Gaddafi for “help” with his 2007 presidential election campaign. The prosecutors have also obtained a detailed statement from Gaddafi’s personal secretary, Ahmed Ramadan, on precisely how the regime allegedly financed Sarkozy’s bid. In this second part of a series of three reports, Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report on the latest developments in the French judicial investigation into the suspected illegal funding.

Sarkozy’s ex-wife ‘staggered’ at findings of Libyan funding probe

Justice — Investigation

Cécilia Attias, the former wife of Nicolas Sarkozy, was interviewed in June as a witness by police acting under the authority of a judicial investigation into the suspected illegal funding of her then husband’s 2007 presidential election campaign by the regime of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. During the four-hours of questioning, she was notably unflattering about several of the former president’s close entourage, and described evidence from the probe that was presented to her as, variously, “staggering”, “surreal” and “ugly”.  Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report. 

'Rafale Papers': French judges face military secrecy hurdles over probe into sale of fighters

International — Investigation

French judges are leading an investigation into claims of corruption surrounding the 7.8-billion-euro sale to India in 2016 of 36 Dassault-built Rafale fighter aircraft. But four months after searching the headquarters of the French defence and aviation group, investigators were refused access by France's Ministry of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to classified documents concerning the contract negotiations. Yann Philippin reports.

French judge seeks key to Élysée archives over arms deal during Rwanda genocide

Justice — Investigation

A Paris-based judicial investigation into alleged “complicity in genocide” by Paul Barril, a former commander of the elite GIGN gendarmerie intervention squad, is now seeking access to the classified archives of a military chief of staff to late French president François Mitterrand. In May 1994, Barril signed a 3.1-million-dollar weapons deal with Rwanda’s extremist Hutu regime during its slaughter of up to a million of the country’s Tutsi population. The investigation is seeking to establish whether Barril was furthering his own interests or, unofficially, those of France. Fabrice Arfi reports.

Imam disappears after France's Council of State validates his expulsion

Justice

France’s Council of State has ruled against a lower court’s suspension of an expulsion order against imam Hassan Iquioussen for propagating anti-Semitism and misogyny and being an apologist for terrorism. Immediately after the ruling, which capped a month-long legal battle, police were sent to arrest Iquioussen at his home in north-east France but the 58-year-old imam had already disappeared. Camille Polloni reports.

Migrant trafficking: the trial of ‘Mr Average’ caught smuggling dinghy and life jackets to the French coast

Justice — Report

On August 22nd, a total of 1,295 migrants landed on the shores of southern England from France, a record daily figure, bringing the number of people who have made the same perilous crossing of the Channel so far this year to more than 22,500. Migrant smuggling gangs typically demand 3,000 euros per person for a place on the flimsy dinghies and key to the logistics of these networks are ‘mules’ who transport the boats and equipment, often from Germany, to the French coast. Camille Polloni travelled to the northern French city of Lille to follow the trial last week of one of them, whose lawyer said he was a “Mister average who works every day”.

How Mali's wanted jihadists are escaping justice

International

Since France’s military intervention in Mali in 2013 put an end to an offensive by Islamic extremists occupying the north of the country, and despite the subsequent UN peacekeeping mission to help stabilize the former French colony, it remains blighted by insecurity. Amid the continuing tensions, the government stands accused of a strategy of clemency towards senior jihadists who led a reign of terror during their occupation of the north. The vast majority of them have been allowed to escape justice, while the few who were placed in jail have been discretely freed, apparently in prisoner exchange deals. Rémi Carayol reports.

Sarkozy walks tightrope to re-election and to escape prosecution

France

Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday announced to little surprise that he is standing in the primary elections of his conservative Républicains party this November in the hope of becoming its candidate in next year’s presidential elections. But the former president’s re-election bid is marred by his implication in several judicial investigations, two of which are likely to see him sent for trial. Michel Deléan and Mathilde Mathieu detail the long list of Sarkozy’s judicial woes, and the prospect of his election gamble to avoid prosecution.

Rachida Dati warns French to stop Far Right by turning out in European polls

France — Link

Former justice minister and Sarkozy protegée says high turnout can help combat threat of 'ultra-violent, ultra-racist and populist' parties.

Guilty until proved innocent: how Spain's anti-terrorism campaign has stood justice on its head

International — Investigation

Since the March 2004 Madrid train bombings, more than 500 people have been arrested in Spain on suspicion of involvement in terrorist actitivity, of which just 50 have been tried and convicted. For in the aftermath of the Madrid attacks, which left 191 people dead and more than 1,800 injured, the Spanish anti-terrorist campaign has adopted a tactic of preventive arrests, many based on little or no evidence, in which the presumption of guilt presides over that of innocence, often prompted by information from foreign intelligence services and interrogations carried out in secret. "On the other hand, we haven’t had any attacks for ten years,” argued one high-ranking Spanish magistrate in this report by Braulio García Jaén, Matías Escudero Arce and Andrés Aguayo.