Investigations

  • French minister and police chief point to Élysée over Benalla scandal

    By and
    French interior minister Gérard Collomb appearing before MPs on Monday. © Reuters French interior minister Gérard Collomb appearing before MPs on Monday. © Reuters

    The French parliament commission of inquiry into the scandal sparked by media revelations last week of the vicious assault upon a May Day demonstrator by President Emmanuel Macron’s personal security advisor, Alexandre Benalla, who was illegally allowed to take an active part in policing May 1st crowds dressed with police insignia, began its first hearings on Monday, when it quizzed interior minister Gérard Collomb and Paris police prefect Michel Delpuech. In their testimony, both men clearly placed responsibility for what increasingly appears as a far-reaching cover-up at the door of the presidential office.

  • Macron thug-and-aide scandal deepens with cover-up claims

    Alexandre Benalla (centre) and his associate Vincent Crase attack a demonstrator on May 1st in the presence of police. © DR Alexandre Benalla (centre) and his associate Vincent Crase attack a demonstrator on May 1st in the presence of police. © DR

    President Emmanuel Macron was this weekend mired the gravest crisis since he came to office little more than a year ago, after further revelations about the events when his personal security advisor physically assaulted May Day demonstrators while dressed as a police officer, and growing evidence that his extraordinary behaviour was covered up by the Élysée Palace and the interior ministry. Both Macron and his interior minister Gérard Collomb were reportedly made aware more than two months ago of the thuggish behaviour of the president’s personal security advisor Alexandre Benalla, who was only finally dismissed from his post on Friday when he was taken into police custody two days after the scandal was first revealed by the media.

  • French film director Luc Besson faces new claims of sexual violence

    By , and Geoffrey Le Guilcher
    Luc Besson. © Reuters Luc Besson. © Reuters

    On July 6th, 2018, a former casting director wrote to the Paris public prosecutor claiming she had been 'sexually assaulted' by the acclaimed French film director and producer Luc Besson. This follows allegations of rape detailed in a formal complaint on May 18th by the actress Sand Van Roy against Besson, and a further complaint by Van Roy on July 6th. After an investigation lasting several months, Mediapart can reveal the stories of several women who describe sexually inappropriate behaviour by Besson, best known for blockbuster films such as 'Nikita', ‘The Big Blue’, 'Leon', ‘The Fifth Element’, and more recently 'Lucy', and who has vehemently denied all the allegations against him. Marine Turchi, Lénaig Bredoux and Geoffrey Le Guilcher report.

  • Inspections highlight worrying safety lapses at French nuclear power plants

    By
    The nuclear power station at Chinon in western France,  where a number of safety issues were identified. © Reuters The nuclear power station at Chinon in western France, where a number of safety issues were identified. © Reuters

    A Parliamentary report recently called for improvements in safety at the country's nuclear power plants. In response, the state-backed power utility EDF, which operates the plants, insisted that safety is its top priority. But documents from the French nuclear watchdog the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire seen by Mediapart – but not by French MPs who wrote the report – reveal a different story. They show that procedures to prevent explosions in areas of several nuclear plants are deeply inadequate and in some cases non-existent. Pascale Pascariello reports.

  • Prosecutor calls for pilots to be tried over bombing that killed French soldiers

    By
    Will they stand trial? Former ministers Michèle Alliot-Marie, Dominique de Villepin and Michel Barnier. © Reuters Will they stand trial? Former ministers Michèle Alliot-Marie, Dominique de Villepin and Michel Barnier. © Reuters

    In 2004 a bombing raid killed nine French soldiers and an American aid worker at Bouaké in Ivory Coast. Fourteen years later, and after years of painstaking investigation in the face of bureaucratic obstruction from the French authorities, prosecutors in Paris have said that three pilots should stand trial over the attack. As Antton Rouget reports, it could also pave the way for three senior French government ministers at the time - Dominique de Villepin, Michèle Alliot-Marie and Michel Barnier – to stand trial too.

  • Mystery of the giant shipping line linked to President Macron's chief of staff

    By and
    MSC container ships in the Spanish port of Valencia. © Reuters MSC container ships in the Spanish port of Valencia. © Reuters

    Why was Alexis Kohler, who is now secretary general at the Elysee and chief of staff to President Emmanuel Macron, so keen to become finance director at the shipping firm MSC and its cruise company subsidiary MSC Cruises? Yes, the Italian-Swiss group is world number two in maritime freight, is a major cruise company and controls a number of port terminals. But it also uses tax havens and practices tax avoidance, keeps its business confidential and operates in an environment where dangerous shadows lurk. Martine Orange and Cecilia Ferrara investigate.

  • The ex-wine lobbyist who handles viticulture issues as Élysée advisor

    By
    Sharing a glass: Emmanuel Macron at the Salon de l'Agriculture farming show in 2018. © Reuters Sharing a glass: Emmanuel Macron at the Salon de l'Agriculture farming show in 2018. © Reuters

    At the request of the French president's office, France's wine sector is preparing to publish a prevention plan against alcohol abuse. However, President Emmanuel Macron's advisor at the Élysée on the issue, Audrey Bourolleau, herself used to be a lobbyist for this powerful sector until last year. Yet despite this apparently glaring conflict of interest, the advisor has continued to be involved in the issue. Antton Rouget reports.

  • Revealed: story behind arrests of far-right activists in France

    By , and Jacques Massey

    Ten men, including a former gendarme, have been arrested across France for their suspected role in a plot to attack Muslims. Mediapart can reveal that one of the suspects had been setting up his own laboratory to make explosives. Matthieu Suc, Marine Turchi and Jacques Massey report on the story behind the dramatic arrests and the murky world of the far-right in France.

  • The Libyan who unearthed secret Gaddafi regime archives on airliner bombing

    By and
    Samir Shegwara, who has unearthed key documents relating to the bombing of a French airliner in 1989. © Mediapart Samir Shegwara, who has unearthed key documents relating to the bombing of a French airliner in 1989. © Mediapart

    The recent revelations by Mediapart about the secret plot by Nicolas Sarkozy's followers to clear the name of a Libyan spy chief owe a great deal to one man: Samir Shegwara. It was this city councillor from Libya who sifted through the regime's old archives after the fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in the 2011 revolution. There he unearthed key documents about the bombing of the UTA DC 10 carried out by Libyans in 1989, and about the subsequent efforts by Sarkozy's team to help the man convicted over the terror attack - Gaddafi's brother-in-law and security chief Abdullah Senussi. Mediapart went to meet him. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

  • Libyan funding: Sarkozy clan's secret plan to clear man behind airliner bombing

    By and
    Security chief Abdullah Senussi  in August 2011, just before the fall of the Libyan regime under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. © Reuters Security chief Abdullah Senussi in August 2011, just before the fall of the Libyan regime under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. © Reuters

    According to documents gathered by an elected official in Tripoli, in 2005 Nicolas Sarkozy's close friend and personal lawyer Thierry Herzog offered to get an arrest warrant and conviction against a senior Libyan official – who was blamed for a terrorist attack - quashed. The man in question, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's brother-in-law and security chief Abdullah Senussi, had been jailed for life in his absence for masterminding the 1989 bombing of a French UTA airline DC10 passenger plane over Niger, in which 170 people lost their lives. The documents, seen by Mediapart, also show that Herzog was taken to Tripoli to discuss the affair by Francis Szpiner, the lawyer for the victims of the attack, though the latter has denied making the trip. The revelations point to a potential quid pro quo to explain why the Libyan regime would have been willing to help fund Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign, claims over which the former president is being investigated. Karl Laske and Fabrice Arfi report.