The extent of political and financial corruption in France has been highlighted by the scandal-plagued French presidential elections, with two of the frontrunning candidates, conservative nominee François Fillon and the far-right challenger Marine Le Pen, engulfed in graft accusations. Following the case of Jérôme Cahuzac, the socialist budget minister tax-fraud tsar who, Mediapart revealed, held a secret foreign bank account over two decades, several new anti-corruption agencies were created to fight a seemingly endemic problem. But, in a series of interviews with Mediapart, investigators and magistrates denounce a dire and crippling lack of resources.
The French justice system is cracking apart from the effects of a dire shortage of personnel and resources, with one of the smallest budgets, in comparison to national GDP, in Europe. Magistrates complain they are crushed by their workload, unable to fulfil their tasks. The chronic logjam of cases has often tragic humain consequences, as Michaël Hajdenberg discovered when he asked six magistrates from different jurisdictions across France to give their own accounts of the problems they face.
Judges placed the former president under investigation - one step short of being charged - for 'suspected illegal financing' of his 2012 campaign.
Thousands of police officers staged a noisy protest outside justice ministry over what they perceive as its too lenient policies towards criminals.
IMF chief Lagarde escapes being formally placed under investigation over her role in a controversial 400M-euro payout to tycoon Bernard Tapie.
The controversial introduction last year in France of citizen jurors to assist magistrates in trials of crimes which carry a punishment of between five and ten years is to be abandoned after an official report found the scheme, launched under former president Nicolas Sarkozy, to be ill-conceived, unmanageable and too costly, Mediapart can reveal. Michel Deléan reports.
French justice minister Michel Mercier this week presented before government his bill for a reform of the justice system that will see juries introduced to sentencing in lower criminal courts. Mercier defends the controversial bill, due to begin its passage through the Senate in May, as a means to "better associate the French public with the workings of justice". But it has been sharply attacked by magistrates and the opposition as a populist electoral ploy, and even by members of President Sarkozy's ruling UMP party as a retrograde move that will cripple the functioning of courts. Michel Deléan presents the evidence for the prosecution.