Investigations

  • Libyan funding: police find evidence in Élysée of bid to clear Gaddafi henchman

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    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

    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.

  • The corruption behind sale of French tanks used in Yemen war

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    A Leclerc tank sold to the United Arab Emirates by France. © Nexter 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.

  • French army officers set to avoid charges over Rwanda massacre claims

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    General Jean-Claude Lafourcade, leaft, head of Opération Turquoise forces in Rwanda, with prime minister Édouard Balladur, July 21st, 1994, at Goma. © Reuters 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.

  • How Macron's security aide produced gun for a selfie during election campaign

    Alexandre Benalla and two other members of the campaign security team pose with a waitress in Poitiers in April 2017. © Mediapart 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.

  • Why so few French jihadists have returned from Syria

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    Ruins in the Syrian city of Raqqa, once a bastion of Islamic State. © Reuters 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.

     

  • François Hollande, his partner’s film, and the French fighter jet sale to India

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    Julie Gayet and François Hollande. © Reuters 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.

  • Ex-minister seeks to justify cash payments in Libyan election funding affair

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    Senior conservative MP Éric Woerth in the National Assembly on November 15th, 2017. © Reuters Senior conservative MP Éric Woerth in the National Assembly on November 15th, 2017. © Reuters

    The former minister and current senior Member of Parliament Éric Woerth has been questioned by judges investigating claims that Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 presidential election campaign was funded by Muammar Gaddafi's Libyan regime. Woerth, the treasurer of that campaign, sought to play down his role in handling envelopes stuffed full of cash at the election campaign headquarters. But according to a transcript of his evidence, seen by Mediapart, Woerth's explanations weakened his own defence. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report

  • French government's curious silence over sports minister's resignation

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    Former sports minister Laura Flessel with President Emmanuel Macron. © Reuters Former sports minister Laura Flessel with President Emmanuel Macron. © Reuters

    When the former fencing champion Laura Flessel resigned as sports minister earlier this week her departure was initially put down simply to “personal reasons”. Later it emerged that she and her husband face a possible investigation over tax fraud in relation to a company they own. The government, however, has refused to say when it first became aware of possible issues over the minister's tax affairs. Antton Rouget investigates.

  • Moroccan police called in to deal with foreign youngsters on Paris streets

    Police intervene in an altercation between Moroccan youths and a local trader in the Goutte d'Or district of Paris, July 2018. © Rachida El Azzouzi Police intervene in an altercation between Moroccan youths and a local trader in the Goutte d'Or district of Paris, July 2018. © Rachida El Azzouzi

    Dozens of Moroccan youths roam the Goutte d'Or district of Paris, where they are both the authors and victims of violence and have been making life a misery for local inhabitants. Unable to cope, over the summer the French authorities called on Moroccan police officers to help arrange possible repatriation of some of the youngsters. Rachida El Azzouzi and Mathilde Mathieu report on a policy that has alarmed some local support groups.

  • Macron security aide affair: Alexandre Benalla says he concealed evidence

    Villers-Cotterets, north-east of Paris, in March 2017,  Emmanuel Macron, accompanied by Alexandre Benalla, visits the town where writer Alexandre Dumas was born. © Reuters Villers-Cotterets, north-east of Paris, in March 2017, Emmanuel Macron, accompanied by Alexandre Benalla, visits the town where writer Alexandre Dumas was born. © Reuters

    Paris prosecutors have refused to broaden the scope of the investigation of the Alexandre Benalla affair into claims that evidence in the case was concealed. This is despite the fact that, according to documents seen by Mediapart, President Emmanuel Macron's former security aide himself claimed that he had arranged for evidence to be hidden. The affair concerns claims – backed by video footage – that Benalla and another official unlawfully took part in the arrest of a May Day demonstrator in a Paris park earlier this year. Pascale Pascariello, Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.