Interviews

  • Key witness who was never heard points to the proof that Société Générale trader Jérôme Kerviel did not act alone

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    Société Générale employee Jérôme Kerviel met with worldwide notoriety as the so-called 'rogue trader' who lost the bank almost 5 billion euros in reckless trading bets in 2007. He was sentenced to five years in prison – two of them suspended - and a staggering fine of 4.9 billion euros, a sentence upheld after he lost an appeal in October 2012. The bank has consistently claimed that Kerviel acted alone and kept his high-risk bets secret from his superiors. But in this interview with Mediapart, a key witness to Kerviel's appeal case, but who was never called to testify, explains why Kerviel's activities were necessarily known to the bank, which at best turned a blind eye. What's more, he tells Martine Orange, the concrete proof of this is still available in logged and stored data - but not for long.

  • 'Show us respect and equality': filmmaker, feminist Samia Chala on why France must look in the mirror and lift the veil ban

    Since its introduction in April 2011, a French law banning the ‘concealment of the face’ in public has been received by a section of France’s practicing Muslims, estimated to total about two million people, as an act of discrimination and provocation, for it above all targets the wearing of the Muslim veil. Documentary-maker Samia Chala (pictured) settled in France in the 1990s after fleeing the Islamist-led civil war in her native Algeria in the 1990s. In this interview with Rachida El Azzouzi and Antoine Perraud, this self-proclaimed feminist and “mauler of Islamists” explains her outrage at a law that prohibits a basic freedom and which, she argues, does nothing but to further stigmatize an already largely alienated population of North African origin. “I am doing nothing other than sounding an alarm," says Chala. “If we don’t stop this escalation, there will be a clash. And what a clash!”

  • 'I feel humiliated at having been deported from France – I did nothing wrong'

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    School students in France have resumed their protests over the deportation of Roma schoolgirl Léonarda who was arrested during a school trip. However, this controversial case was not an isolated incident. Under socialist president François Hollande the deportation of school students who have reached the age of majority and lack residence permits has occurred with greater frequency than under his right-wing predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy. Mediapart’s Michaël Hajdenberg gives the background to the deportations and then hears the moving story of a school pupil in France who was arrested this summer on his way to an exam and sent back to Mali five days later.

  • The small-town mayor leading the Breton revolt against the French green tax

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    Christian Troadec, maire de Carhaix. © Rachida El Azzouzi Christian Troadec, maire de Carhaix. © Rachida El Azzouzi

    Despite government promises of millions of euros in aid and a new 'pact for the future' for the region, the people of Brittany continue to protest against job cuts and the planned eco-tax – even though ministers have 'suspended' it. One of the leaders of this rebellion is a local mayor called Christian Troadec. Mediapart's Rachida El Azzouzi profiles this straight-talking left-wing leader, then interviews him to find out what is behind this upswell of regional anger and why the movement has chosen to adopt as a symbol the red hats worn by Breton demonstrators who protested against a tax imposed by King Louis XIV back in 1675...

  • The Vichy deportation camp that is a 'permanent stain' on France

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    A senior figure in the Socialist Party has angrily criticised French culture minister Aurélie Filippetti for allegedly snubbing Rivesaltes, a former internment and deportation camp in southern France which is set to become a memorial in 2015, during a recent trip to the area. The culture minister has dismissed the claims as 'absurd'. To understand the importance of the memorial site behind this political squabble, Mediapart asked historian Denis Peschanski to describe the political and historical issues at stake in a camp that revives some of the worst memories of the Second World War in France. Antoine Perraud reports.

  • HSBC whistleblower Falciani reveals how Swiss authorities tried to negotiate his silence

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    Hervé Falciani. © Reuters Hervé Falciani. © Reuters

    Hervé Falciani, the HSBC employee who exposed the existence of tens of thousands of tax evading accounts held at the bank in Geneva, is back in France where he will give evidence to MPs drawing up a new law on tax fraud. In an interview with Mediapart the former IT man, who was arrested in Spain last year pending possible extradition to Switzerland, has told Mediapart that the Swiss authorities tried to buy his silence with the offer of a non-custodial sentence. Valentine Oberti reports.

  • The migrant workers trapped in slave-like conditions in Greece

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     © Reuters © Reuters

    In April this year, the supervisors of a strawberry farm in Greece opened fire on a group of immigrant workers who had demanded to be paid their salaries which had been withheld for six months. The shooting left 33 Bangladeshi workers wounded (picture), eight of them seriously hurt. It also revealed the dire conditions in which thousands of immigrant workers live in Greece, underpaid and often undeclared, with little or no possibility of escaping their exploitation in intensive farming businesses. Charalambos Kassimis is a professor and research director of rural sociology with the Athens University of Agriculture. In this interview with Amélie Poinssot, he explains the rural evolution which created the need for foreign labour, and details how many migrants became trapped in an organised "state of slavery" made possible by a “law of silence” enforced by politicians.

  • 'There was no cover-up': French finance minister Moscovici on his role in the Cahuzac scandal

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    Pierre Moscovici © Reuters Pierre Moscovici © Reuters

    French finance minister Pierre Moscovici is at the centre of allegations that the government was involved in a cover-up to support Jérôme Cahuzac after Mediapart revealed last December that the then-budget minister, leading a crackdown on tax fraud, held a secret bank account abroad. In this lengthy interview with Mediapart’s Laurent Mauduit and Martine Orange, Moscovici defends his role during the four months in which he stood by Cahuzac, despite the mounting evidence presented by Mediapart that his junior minister and one-time friend consistently lied about holding hidden funds abroad. Moscovici reveals that the former budget minister, who finally confessed earlier this month, after repeated denials, to holding the account, declined to provide a written statement requested by tax authorities last December as to whether he held or not a secret account. But surprisingly that did not cause alarm among his colleagues. “Faced with the firmness and the number of his denials,” Moscovici says, “I had the tendency and the wish to believe Jérôme Cahuzac.”  

  • The goal for Qatar, at home and abroad

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    The investment activities of the oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar are seemingly never out of the news in France, where its purchases include businesses, property, the media and, notably, the Paris Saint-Germain football club where its deep pockets allowed the high-profile signings of Zlatan Ibrahimović and David Beckham. But while PSG fans are happy, Qatar’s mooted scheme to set up an investment fund for France’s deprived urban zones prompted a call by members of the conservative opposition for a parliamentary enquiry. Just what is Qatar’s political aim in what often appears to be a high-spending PR campaign, what is the reality of its relationship with the West and France in particular, and what lies behind the authoritarian state's support for regime change elsewhere in the Arab world? Pierre Puchot debates these and other issues with two specialists on Qatari affairs, Nabil Ennasri and Karim Sade.

  • The artistic triumph and economic failure of France's subsidised film industry

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    The French cinema industry has some of the world’s highest-paid stars and largest film budgets, but is losing money hand over fist. The paradox is explained by a system of public subsidies paid to make films whatever their box office appeal. Even for those which prove a popular success, the enormous production costs are hardly ever recovered. The subsidies paid to the French film industry are part of a complex system that its supporters say has allowed it, over many decades, to maintain a rich production while other national cinema industries in Europe have faded. Its critics argue it is a perverse and outdated economic model. In this interview with Joseph Confavreux, the sociologist Olivier Alexandre, a specialist in the history of modern French cinema, analyses how the system works and weighs up the arguments for and against.