Investigations

  • Inspections highlight worrying safety lapses at French nuclear power plants

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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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

    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.

  • Why Macron's chief of staff is target of corruption probe

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    Alexis Kohler at the Elysée Palace, January 3rd 2018. © Reuters Alexis Kohler at the Elysée Palace, January 3rd 2018. © Reuters

    The French prosecution services have launched an investigation into suspected corruption by President Emmanuel Macron’s chief of staff Alexis Kohler, following an official complaint lodged by anti-corruption NGO Anticor. The complaint cited revelations last month by Mediapart into Kohler’s role, when he was a senior civil servant, in affairs in which the interests of a shipping company owned by members of his close family were at stake. Mediapart’s Martine Orange, who first broke the story, details here the background to the case that now threatens the downfall of the man described by French daily Le Monde as “the most powerful senior civil servant in France”.

  • Election observer missions tainted by 'sexual predators'

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    Vehicles from a European Union election monitoring team mission. © EU Vehicles from a European Union election monitoring team mission. © EU

    More allegations of international aid workers’ sexual exploitation of the vulnerable people they are assigned to help were revealed last week in a mothballed United Nations report into the extent of an alleged ‘food for sex’ scandal involving numerous NGOs. The Times report followed revelations earlier this year by the paper about how Oxfam covered up evidence that its staff were involved in sex parties with prostitutes during operations in quake-devastated Haiti. But the scandalous behaviour of some involved in worthy international missions is not limited to the humanitarian sphere, as revealed by Fabien Offner in this report into the allegations of the conduct of staff involved in election monitoring missions, and in particular that of some EU election observers in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006.

  • How Chrysler, Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover also hiked car spare part prices

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    Chrysler cars at the Detroit car show in January 2016. © Reuters Chrysler cars at the Detroit car show in January 2016. © Reuters

    Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroën are not the only car makers to have used the same software to increase the prices of their spare parts. Mediapart, working with the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), Reuters and Belgian daily De Standaard, can reveal that 31 different car makers were approached to use the software and that at least three of them, Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover and Chrysler, have employed it to boost revenue. Between them these five huge automobile manufacturers have raked in an extra 2.6 billion euros from motorists around the world. Yann Philippin reports.