'A fault that led to genocide': former French general Jean Varret. © Benît Collombat, de la cellule investigation de Radio France
Former army corps general Jean Varret is the most senior French officer yet to criticise France’s actions in the East African state of Rwanda in the years immediately preceding the 1994 genocide in the country. Interviewed as part of a joint investigation by Mediapart and Radio France into the events 25 years ago, Varret denounced the role and “faults” of a “military lobby” directing French policy, and how the warnings of the horror to come were ignored by his military and political masters.
Screen grab from the Facebook page of Sergei Munier, a follower of former soldier Victor Lenta, at a 'yellow vest' protest. © DR
When President Emmanuel Macron spoke to a group of journalists at the end of January this year he claimed there were “40,000 to 50,000 extreme militants” stirring up the 'yellow vest' protests, and he warned that violence was being orchestrated by political hardliners. Yet at the very same time the president's own intelligence services were producing an analysis which came to precisely the opposite conclusion. According to those security agencies, the ultra-right and ultra-left are “virtually non-existent” in the protest marches. Matthieu Suc reports on the president who appears to be ignoring or contradicting his own secret services.
President Emmanuel Macron on February 27th 2019. © Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes
Speaking during a recent debate with local councillors President Emmanuel Macron insisted: “No programme for a return of jihadists has today been drawn up.” Yet, as Mediapart can reveal, officials at the ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Justice have in fact been working since the autumn of 2018 on plans for the return of French jihadists held by Kurds in Syria. Matthieu Suc reports on the French government's change of heart.
Europe 1's studios on March 14th 2012. © Reuters
For nearly 20 years the privately-owned French radio station Europe 1 kept files and stored information on more than half a million listeners, sometimes with their details accompanied by insulting comments. This was detailed in a 2017 report by the French data watchdog the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) which has remained confidential but which has been seen by Mediapart. As a result of the report the radio station was given an official warning but the matter was never referred to the prosecution authorities, nor did Europe 1 have to pay a fine. Lou Syrah reports.
Mohamed Abdulla Senussi (left) during his trial in Tripoli in April 2014. © Reuters
As part of their investigation into the suspected funding by the Gaddafi regime in Libya of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential election campaign, two French judges travelled to Tripoli earlier this month when they questioned, for the first time face-to-face, Gaddafi’s former spy chief, and brother-in-law, Mohamed Abdulla Senussi. Mediapart has gained access to extracts from the statements provided by Senussi, who detailed how he oversaw the payment of 7 million euros for Sarkozy’s campaign, as ordered by Gaddafi. He also confirmed that, as part of the deal, the former French president’s personal lawyer and friend Thierry Herzog was involved in moves to overturn an international arrest warrant issued against Senussi after his conviction in absentia by a Paris court for his part in the blowing up of a French airliner in 1989.
Left to right: Alexandre Benalla, Iskander Makhmudov, and Farkhad Akhmedov. © DR
Emmanuel Macron’s disgraced former personal security aide Alexandre Benalla, who also served as deputy to the president’s inner cabinet chief, organised from the Élysée Palace a private deal to provide protection services to a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin and who is suspected of ties to Russian organised crime. Benalla, who was initially dismissed from his post after assaulting people on the sidelines of a May Day march, last December also sold protection services to another Russian billionaire. The total of the two deals is worth 2.2 million euros, part of which was paid to Benalla in Morocco, Mediapart can reveal in this latest investigation into the growing scandal which, it is speculated, may be linked to the resignation announced this week of Macron’s most senior advisor, Ismaël Emelien.
The wreckage of Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana's aicraft, shot down on April 6th 1994. © Reuters
In a joint investigation, Mediapart and Radio France have revealed the contents of previously unseen documents relating to aspects of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, from the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana which sparked the massacres to illegal arms sales to the genocidal regime. The documents include a key report by France's overseas intelligence agency, the DGSE, on the genocide, which left close to one million people dead. Mediapart's Fabrice Arfi and Benoît Collombat of Radio France report.
Alexandre Benalla and, just behind him, Vincent Crase in Paris on May 1st 2018 . © Reuters
France's national fraud prosecution unit has opened an investigation for “corruption” over a French firm's security contract signed with Russian oligarch Iskander Makhmudov, and negotiated by Alexandre Benalla while the latter was a security aide at the Élysée. Mediapart first revealed details of this contract, which involves a company run by Benalla's friend Vincent Crase, back in December. In a separate development the French prime minister's head of security has resigned after claims that her flat was used to host a bail-breaching meeting between Benalla and Crase that was secretly recorded in July 2018. She denies any wrong doing. Fabrice Arfi, Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi report.
President Emmanuel Macron and prime minister Édouard Philippe in Paris in March 2018. © Reuters
It was an intervention from the office of France's prime minister Édouard Philippe which caused the opening of an investigation into the source of secret recordings involving a former presidential aide, Mediapart can reveal. This investigation then led to an attempt by prosecutors to search Mediapart's office – which Mediapart prevented, citing laws designed to protect its sources. The prosecution authorities, meanwhile, are remaining silent about the information they received which caused them to start the probe. Fabrice Arfi, Antton Rouget, Matthieu Suc and Marine Turchi report.
Alexandre Benalla and President Emmanuel Macron during a visit to Normandy April 12th 2018. © Reuters
An investigation by Mediapart sheds dramatic new light on the affair involving Alexandre Benalla, who was a security aide to President Emmanuel Macron until he was sacked when video footage emerged showing that he had used violence against protestors at a demonstration. In particular recordings of Benalla talking to the former head of security for the ruling LREM party, Vincent Crase, who also lost his job over the scandal, reveal details about a secret meeting that breached a judicial control order, about a security contract with a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin, and Benalla's ongoing communications with President Macron. Fabrice Arfi, Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi report.