Police last week searched the home of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of Frances radical-left La France Insoumise party, and also the homes of several of his close entourage, as part of an investigation into suspected financial fraud during Mélenchon’s 2017 presidential election campaign. Mélenchon’s furious reaction to the raids, which included his party’s headquarters, have erupted into a public slanging match with the prosecution services and also the media, who he has denounced as serving a political plot against him. Fabrice Arfi, Michel Deléan and Antton Rouget report on the searches last week, when 12,000 euros in cash was discovered at the home of a former close aide of Mélenchon’s.
Saïf al-Islam Gaddafi appearing before a court in Zintan, Libya, on May 15th 2014. © Reuters
In August this year, Saïf al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, sent a lengthy written statement to French magistrates investigating evidence that France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy secretly received millions of euros from the dictator’s regime to finance his 2007 election campaign. Mediapart has gained access to the statement in full, and reveals here the most notable extracts, in which he corroborates the accounts of the illegal funding, details how it was organised, and relates how Sarkozy and his close entourage sought, as a return favour, to overturn a life sentence handed by a Paris court to Gaddafi’s intelligence chief in absentia for his role in the 1989 bombing of a French airliner which killed 170 passengers and crew. Karl Laske and Fabrice Arfi report.
French defence minister Florence Parly with Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani (centre) and Dassault CEO Éric Trappier (left), inaugurating the Nagpur joint venture plant, October 27th 2017. © Reliance Group
The 8 billion-euro sale to India by France of 36 Dassault Rafale jet fighters has become the centre of corruption allegations levelled against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his close friend, Indian businessman Anil Ambani, chairman of the Reliance Group which was handed the role of local industrial partner of Dassault to build parts for the jets despite no aeronautical expertise. The claim that Ambani was given the joint venture contract as a favour by Modi to save his struggling business is the subject of a complaint lodged this month with India’s Central Bureau of Investigation. Now Mediapart has obtained a Dassault company document in which a senior executive is quoted as saying the group accepted to work with Reliance as an “imperative and obligatory” condition for securing the fighter contract. Karl Laske and Antton Rouget report.
Why has the #MeToo movement not had such an impact in France as it has had in America? © Reuters
The different ways in which the two countries have reacted to the #MeToo movement has been striking. In the United States there was a strong and powerful response whereas in France there has been a backlash, in some quarters. To find out why France has been slower to embrace this movement, which began a year ago, Mediapart asked women who had supported or led the campaign on this side of the Atlantic. Marine Turchi reports.
Security chief Abdullah Senussi in August 2011, just before the fall of the Libyan regime under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. © Reuters
Investigators probing claims that the Libyan regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi funded Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign have unearthed a key piece of evidence in the archives of the Élysée. It shows that on May 16th, 2009, the middleman Ziad Takieddine visited the Élysée to meet Sarkozy's right-hand man Claude Guéant. The object was to “set aside the arrest warrant” targeting Colonel Gaddafi's brother-in-law and security chief Abdullah Senussi, who had been convicted in absentia for his part in the 1989 bombing of a French UTA airline DC10 passenger plane over Niger, in which 170 people lost their lives. There is growing suspicion that an agreement to resolve Senussi's situation was a key component of the Libyan funding corruption plot. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske.
A Leclerc tank sold to the United Arab Emirates by France. © Nexter
Documents obtained by Wikileaks and shared with Mediapart, German publication Der Spiegel and Italy's La Repubblica have revealed a state secret: the hidden corruption behind the sale of French tanks to the United Arab Emirates. The tanks involved in that deal have since been deployed in the current war in Yemen, a conflict which, according to the United Nations, has led to the worse humanitarian crisis in the world. Fabrice Arfi reports.
General Jean-Claude Lafourcade, leaft, head of Opération Turquoise forces in Rwanda, with prime minister Édouard Balladur, July 21st, 1994, at Goma. © Reuters
Investigating magistrates in France have been probing the actions of a group of senior French military officers in relation to a massacre at Bisesero in Rwanda, one of the grim episodes in the genocide committed against the Tutsi people in 1994. For 13 years the judges have investigated the potential responsibility of the French military over that massacre amid claims that senior officers were slow to react to warnings that Tutsis were in mortal danger at that site. But Mediapart understands that the magistrates have now finished their probe with no individuals being placed under formal investigation, paving the way for the case to be dismissed with no trial. Fabrice Arfi reports.
Alexandre Benalla and two other members of the campaign security team pose with a waitress in Poitiers in April 2017. © Mediapart
The incident took place on the night of April 28th, 2017, after an election rally by Emmanuel Macron. Alexandre Benalla – who has now lost his job as the president's security aide – posed for a selfie in a restaurant. In it he is shown holding his gun. The problem for Benalla, however, is that at the time he was not authorised to carry a firearm. The prosecution authorities have now announced a preliminary investigation into the matter. Christophe Gueugneau and Antton Rouget report.
Ruins in the Syrian city of Raqqa, once a bastion of Islamic State. © Reuters
Following the military rout of the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and Iraq, large numbers of French jihadists were forecast to return home. But in fact, those who have made the journey back represent relatively few of the estimated 700 who joined the ranks of IS in the Middle East. Since 2016, just 64 men and women jihadists have returned – and only seven so far this year. One principal reason is the logistical difficulties for those fleeing the zone and the high fees demanded by people smugglers. But the situation presents a potential security threat in that those who escape by their own means can become invisible to intelligence services. Matthieu Suc reports.
Julie Gayet and François Hollande. © Reuters
The sale to India by France of 36 Dassault Rafale jet fighters, signed during the presidency of François Hollande, is at the centre of a growing scandal in India where opposition parliamentarians have demanded a detailed investigation of the deal, alleging favouritism, mismanagement of public funds, and the endangering of national security. They are notably suspicious of the circumstances by which India’s Reliance Group was assigned as Dassault’s partner in the building of the jets. As Karl Laske and Antton Rouget report here, at the very time the deal was struck, Reliance provided funding for a film produced by Hollande’s personal partner, the actress Julie Gayet.