President Emmanuel Macron during a visit to a Covid-19 field hospital at Mulhouse in eastern France on March 25th 2020. © AFP
An investigation by Mediapart has revealed the chaotic management at the highest levels of the French state over the crucial issue of providing protective masks to help tackle the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Our probe, which has analysed the situation since January and is based on numerous witness accounts and documentary evidence, highlights the hidden shortages, the unreliable health instructions, the neglected offers of help with importing masks, the continuing shortage of stocks and the way that some companies have been favoured. It also reveals the lies that have accompanied this mismanagement. Meanwhile hundreds of nurses have become infected with the virus. Yann Philippin, Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi report.
A meme that has gone viral: Russian leader Vladimir Putin relaxing; below is a map of Europe showing how it has been invaded by the virus. © DR
The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has not brought a stop to the activities of hackers and trolls bankrolled by various foreign governments, including Russia and China. In some cases hacking attacks have targeted institutions who are in the front line in the battle against the virus. Trolls meanwhile have been extolling the virtues of how authoritarian regimes have handled the health emergency. François Bougon and Matthieu Suc report.
The queue at the Hôtel-Dieu AP-HP hospital in Paris on March 23rd 2020. © Edouard Richard / Hans Lucas via AFP
Hospital intensive care units in the Paris region are already swamped by the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. Mediapart has seen emails in which the regional health authority has asked hospital chiefs to free up a thousand beds in 48 hours as a matter of urgency and to transform their hospitals into disaster zone facilities. There has even been talk of nurses having to be pressed into service. Meanwhile hospital staff, who are poorly protected and in some cases themselves suffering from the virus, say they will “settle their scores” with the health authorities later. Caroline Coq-Chodorge reports.
A patient being evacuated from the Émile-Muller hospital in Mulhouse, Alsace, March 17th 2020. © SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP
Recorded deaths in France from the Covid-19 coronavirus by Saturday evening had risen to 562, with 6,172 people receiving hospital treatment for the infection, a quarter of who are in intensive care, according to official figures. But no-one doubts this is still a statistical calm before the epidemic engulfs France’s healthcare system, a wave forecast to reach a peak in early April. Mediapart has been talking to doctors and nurses around France about how they are preparing for a crisis many predict will be so great that choices will have to be made about which patients are admitted for treatment – as is already happening in the currently worst-hit region of Alsace.
Mediapart has obtained the secret recordings made by Greece’s former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis during the 2015 negotiations at Eurogroup meetings on the proposed bailout conditions of the Greek debt. Selected audio extracts are presented here.
Former German finance minister Wolfgang Schaüble and his Greek counterpart Yanis Varoufakis in 2015. © AFP © AFP
Mediapart has obtained access to secret sound recordings made by former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis of his negotiations with eurozone finance ministers and representatives of the IMF, ECB and the European Commission at the height of the Greek debt crisis in 2015. The 15 hours of recordings offer a sometimes disturbing insight into the tense, closed-door, informal talks aimed at deciding the fate of a nation that was being brought to its knees. Ludovic Lamant reports.
View of the ancient town of Al Ula in Medina province.
Saudi Arabia has forged a major partnership with France to develop the huge site of Al Ula in the north-west of the country, an ancient area which is set to become a major tourist and cultural attraction. An exhibition about Al Ula is running at the Arab World Institute in Paris until March 8th. As Antoine Pecqueur reports, culture is becoming a geopolitical Trojan Horse for the Saudi Kingdom as it seeks to boost its international standing, with France as one of its key partners. Meanwhile French businesses are queuing up to get involved.
Former prime minister and ex-mayor of Bordeaux Alain Juppé and one of the two winemakers in the case, Hubert de Boüard in, 2016. © AFP
Two leading names in winemaking in the prestigious wine area of Saint-Émilion in the Bordeaux region of south-west France have been accused of an illegal conflict of interest. A judge sent Hubert de Boüard de Laforest and Philippe Castéja for trial over claims that they had helped set the rules over who could qualify as a top-ranking Saint-Émilion wine producer, rules from which they themselves benefited. However, in a new and unusual twist after many years of legal procedure, local prosecutors have appealed against the judge's decision to send the two influential men for trial. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan explains the background to the case.
Expert Pascal Cotte during the digitisation project on the 'Mona Lisa' in 2004. © DR
Pascal Cotte, a French scientist who has written several studies and two books on the 'Mona Lisa', and who has digitised several works by Leonardo da Vinci, has accused the Louvre Museum of “parasitism” in relation to his work. Cotte claims that in its major exhibition on the artist, which ends on February 24th, the Paris museum has not credited his discoveries and ground-breaking work on the artist and his most famous painting. Karl Laske reports.
Thierry Gaubert at the court in Nanterre, west of Paris, in 2012 in an unrelated case. © Reuters
In January 2020 Thierry Gaubert, a former close aide to Nicolas Sarkozy, was arrested and then placed under formal investigation for “criminal conspiracy” in relation to claims that the former president's 2007 election campaign was funded with Libyan money. Gaubert is now free on bail, but banned from meeting with either Sarkozy or the ex-head of state's long-standing friend and ally Brice Hortefeux. As Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report, this move marks a major turning point in the long-running judge-led investigation.