Investigations

  • The buried dark secrets of the ‘Sisters of the Good Shepherd’

    By Sarah Boucault
    Éveline Le Bris, one of the alleged victims of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, pictured here at its institution in Angers, north-west France, July 21st 1963. © SB Éveline Le Bris, one of the alleged victims of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, pictured here at its institution in Angers, north-west France, July 21st 1963. © SB

    During the 1950s and 1960s in France, thousands of young girls considered to be from problem backgrounds were placed in care in institutions run by the nuns of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic order whose vocation was to ensure their welfare. A recently created association of those once sent to the hostels is now demanding recognition and compensation for the violence they say they suffered at the hands of the nuns, including physical and mental abuse and forced labour. But, as Sarah Boucault reports, the order is proving less than enthusiastic at opening up its potentially incriminating archives to public scrutiny.

  • Diplomatic cable shows France allowed Rwandan genocide perpetrators to escape

    By
    Alain Juppé, French foreign affairs minister in 1994, seen here in May 2020 at France’s Constitutional Council where he now sits. © JOEL SAGET / AFP Alain Juppé, French foreign affairs minister in 1994, seen here in May 2020 at France’s Constitutional Council where he now sits. © JOEL SAGET / AFP

    In July 1994 in Rwanda, immediately after the fall of the murderous Hutu regime that had led the genocide of hundreds of thousands of the minority ethnic Tutsi population, a group of regime officials, including its president, had fled into a “safe zone” controlled by the French army. A document now discovered in official archives in Paris proves that the French government knew of the presence of the regime officials, but instead of detaining them it organised their escape out of Rwanda. The document, a cable sent from the office of then French foreign minister Alain Juppé, was signed by the current head of the French foreign intelligence agency, the DGSE. Fabrice Arfi reports.

  • What the Sanofi saga tells us about the state of France's industrial strategy

    By
    A Sanofi distribution centre at Val-de-Reuil in Normandy. © Joel Saget/ AFP A Sanofi distribution centre at Val-de-Reuil in Normandy. © Joel Saget/ AFP

    The French pharmaceuticals firm Sanofi has been in the headlines recently because of its setbacks in producing a vaccine against Covid-19, which will not now be ready until the end of 2021 at the earliest. Yet the group has nonetheless decided to go ahead with its restructuring plans and will be trimming back on its research while also moving many of its production plants into a separate company to be sold off. France is now paying the price for having abandoned its industrial and research strategies over the last thirty years. Martine Orange investigates.

  • How French interior minister Gérald Darmanin shifted his line of defence in rape claim probe

    By and
    Denies the claims: interior minister Gérald Darmanin. © THOMAS COEX / AFP Denies the claims: interior minister Gérald Darmanin. © THOMAS COEX / AFP

    Mediapart has had access to new information in the current investigation into rape allegations against France's interior minister Gérald Darmanin, claims that date back to 2009. Some documents we have seen contradict parts of his defence. The file also shows that when he was questioned by the investigating judge in mid-December 2020 the minister - who denies the claims - changed his version of events over a key exchange of SMS messages, in which the complainant accuses him of having “abused his position”. And in addition the minister gave new explanations to justify some of the more embarrassing aspects of the case. Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi report.

  • Justice minister's legal reform will hamper anti-corruption fight say French prosecutors

    By Pierre Januel
    Justice minister Éric Dupond Moretti leaving a meeting of ministers at the Elysée on December 9th 2020. © Arthur Nicholas Orchard / Hans Lucas via AFP Justice minister Éric Dupond Moretti leaving a meeting of ministers at the Elysée on December 9th 2020. © Arthur Nicholas Orchard / Hans Lucas via AFP

    France's justice minister Éric Dupond-Moretti is planning to bring in a raft of reforms to the country's legal system. But prosecutors and many lawyers are worried at the minister's plans to create a new hybrid status for in-house or company legal staff and to grant them the same “legal privilege” as independent lawyers. The move is designed to help defend large French companies against the long arm of the American justice system. Yet critics fear the change would stop French investigators from getting hold of key company documents and become a further obstacle to tackling corruption. Pierre Januel reports.

  • Firm which produces France's favourite bottled water faces claims of polluting stream

    By Mathieu Martiniere (We Report)
    The stream close to the Roxane bottling plant at La Ferrière-Bochard. © Alberto Campi The stream close to the Roxane bottling plant at La Ferrière-Bochard. © Alberto Campi

    For nearly twenty years fishermen, residents and environment inspectors have raised the alarm over pollution seeping from an industrial bottling plant owned by the French group Roxane in Normandy. Locals say the organic pollution has caused major harm to the stream, which feeds into the River Sarthe. Roxane, the third largest French bottling company and owner of Cristaline, the most widely-consumed bottled water in the country, also has its headquarters at the site. Mathieu Martiniere of the independent journalists collective 'We Report' investigates.

  • French probe into Nicolas Sarkozy's 3m-euro Russian contract

    By and
    Nicolas Sarkozy, pictured here attending a conference in Moscow on January 16th 2020. © Evgeny Biyatov / Sputnik via AFP Nicolas Sarkozy, pictured here attending a conference in Moscow on January 16th 2020. © Evgeny Biyatov / Sputnik via AFP

    The French public prosecution services on Friday confirmed they have opened a preliminary investigation into suspected “influence peddling” in relation to a 3-million-euro contract handed to former president Nicolas Sarkozy by Russian insurance services group RESO-Garantia in 2019. The group, one of the largest insurance companies in Russia, is owned by brothers Sergei and Nikolai Sarkisov, whose business dealings, including the sale of a third of its capital to French insurance giant AXA, have involved complex financial structures in tax havens. Yann Philippin and Antton Rouget report.   

  • Key Sarkozy allies admit their errors over secret meetings with Libyan terror chief

    By and
    Key Sarkozy allies: Claude Guéant and Brice Hortefeux, in February 2011, at the Ministry of the Interior in Paris. © LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP Key Sarkozy allies: Claude Guéant and Brice Hortefeux, in February 2011, at the Ministry of the Interior in Paris. © LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP

    Two of former president Nicolas Sarkozy's closest allies, Brice Hortefeux and Claude Guéant, have recently been placed under formal investigation for “criminal conspiracy” over claims that the ex-head of state's 2007 election was part-funded by the Libyan regime. Mediapart can now reveal that during questioning by judges both men admitted to lapses in judgement in meeting a spy chief from Muammar Gaddafi's regime who was wanted by the French justice system after being convicted of a terrorist attack. Yet they deny there was any deal for the Libyans to help fund the election campaign. Both men also loyally continue to protect their former boss, who himself faces claims of criminal conspiracy and corruption in the case. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

  • Anatomy of a disaster: how the start of France's vaccine campaign went badly wrong

    Health minister Olivier Véran in Paris on January 4th 2021. © MARTIN BUREAU / AFP Health minister Olivier Véran in Paris on January 4th 2021. © MARTIN BUREAU / AFP

    The initial slowness in the rollout of its vaccination campaign against Covid-19 has sparked a major political row in France. An investigation by Mediapart can now reveal that a failure of logistics prevented the Pfizer vaccine from being distributed more quickly. As with the earlier debacle over face masks, the Ministry of Health failed to react quickly enough to events and by the end of December had only managed to put in place 38 of the 113 special freezers needed to store the doses at low temperatures. At least three weeks were lost as a result, report Caroline Coq-Chodorge and Antton Rouget.

  • The video evidence of how French police sabotaged a Paris demonstration

    By Sébastien Bourdon, Camille Polloni, Antton Rouget and Antoine Schirer
    Comment la police a saboté la manifestation du 12 décembre 2020. Enquête vidéo. © Mediapart

    Mediapart has gathered and analysed hundreds of videos taken during a demonstration staged in Paris on December 12th 2020 against the French government's controversial “global security” law. Our investigation shows the unlawful nature of dozens of police charges carried out that day. It also documents the arbitrary arrests of demonstrators, baton blows given for no reason and the misleading statements made by interior minister Gérald Darmanin, especially over the nature and outcome of the arrests made. Sébastien Bourdon, Camille Polloni, Antton Rouget and Antoine Schirer investigate.