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France

French press review 5 February 2018

media

Salam Abdeslam goes on trial but will he at last say something, while Corsican nationalists await President Macron as they clamour for greater autonomy.

 

The papers all focus on the trial of Salah Abdeslam, the last surviving suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks. He was moved from a French prison outside Paris to face the law in Brussels starting today over his role in a gun battle in the Belgian capital on March 15, 2016, that led to his capture. Three police officers were wounded in the attack.

Le Figaro sets the stage for the “maximum security trial” in Brussels and looks back at the life of the delinquent turned public enemy Number One.

"Never before have the words of a man been so much awaited and dreaded at the same time" writes Libération. The left leaning publication says he is the last chance to unravel the mysteries of the most deadly attack in France since 1945 in the series of bombings across Paris in 2015.

As Libé points out there could be a huge disappointment at the trial as the terrorist has remained tight-lipped since his arrest. The publication observes that silence is an elementary right in French law which is why no one including Salam Andeslam cannot be forced to speak his mind.

Le Journal de la Haute-Marne says the most pessimistic hypothesis is that he will at last break his silence in court and the most optimistic that he leads the court on the road to the bottom of the attacks.

Today's La Croix looks back at last week's giant brawl in the Calais migrants’ jungle which left five Eritreans fighting for their lives. The Catholic daily claims that the trend is becoming unbearable for the inhabitants of Calais and the security forces policing the evacuated jungle. For the paper, even if there are no easy solutions to the situation it is imperative to step up the war against people traffickers operating in Europe.

The campaign for independence by Corsican nationalists is also on the front pages of some of today's publications as President Macron prepares to pay a 3-day visit to the Island starting on Tuesday. Le Parisien notes that the visit is scheduled exactly twenty years since France's top official on the island, Claude Erignac, was shot dead on the island by a pro-independence activist.

Nationalists who have governed the island of 330,000 people for the past two years, after winning two-thirds of the new regional assembly, staged a huge demonstration in the capital Ajaccio Saturday to seek greater freedoms for their people. They also want equal status for the Corsican language and French and restrictions on the acquisition of property in the Island by people from other parts of France.

Le Figaro argues that while Macron has expressed readiness to dialogue with the Nationalists, he opposes any changes to the constitution that would grant a special status to the territory. For Le Figaro, Corsica remains an integral part of France which is one and indivisible, a message it admits the nationalists are unlikely to hear.

The regional papers vent their frustrations about the "cold snap" sweeping across France. This, as freezing temperatures, snowing and black ice worsen conditions already complicated by massive flooding and rivers bursting their banks. Le Figaro carries an alert from Meteo France warning of snow storms in the Parisian region and the countryside this week.

L'Union/L'Ardennais says more trying times await people already forced to evacuate their flooded homes, some obliged to sleep outside while others face hard times finding emergency homes. According to the publication the developments contradict a campaign pledge made by Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron that no one will be obliged to sleep in the streets.

As the river Seine and other waterways continue to burst their banks, La Nouvelle République du Centre-Ouest says the weather has a mind of its own. It explains that two years after the COP 21 Summit, we are entering a new era of floods and heat waves of our own making.

 

 
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