A former French soldier who has admitted killing an eight-year-old girl, a case that shook the country nearly four years ago, appeared in court Monday on charges he also beat a man to death just a few months before.
Nordahl Lelandais, 38, was brought from prison to the courthouse in Chambery, a town in the French Alps where the victim, also a soldier, was last seen after leaving a nightclub.
He has admitted to killing Corporal Arthur Noyer, 23, in the early hours of April 12, 2017, after picking him up as he hitchhiked.
Lelandais has also confessed to killing eight-year-old Maelys de Araujo in August 2017, in a case that horrified France and which is set to go to trial next year.
He has insisted that both deaths were accidental, but his confessions prompted the reopening of investigations into dozens of other disappearances to see if he was linked to these unsolved cases.
More than 100 journalists watched as he entered under heavy police escort, wearing a face mask and a dark cap pulled low over his eyes.
“Yes I killed Arthur Noyer, but I never wanted to kill him,” Lelandais told the court, where Noyer’s parents and brother sat with an oversize portrait of the victim.
Lelandais’s lawyers also managed to obtain the withdrawal of one of several psychiatric evaluations, citing potential bias by one of the experts who had discussed the case on popular TV show.
But Bernard Boulloud, lawyer for the Noyer family, said he was confident the jurors would have sufficient insight into Lelandais’s personality, “because he will reveal it to us on his own”.
Body in the trunk
The trial has been widely anticipated, with mass-market daily Le Parisien putting Lelandais’s portrait on its front page under the headline “The Secrets of a Predator”.
He told police that Noyer had struck him in a parking lot where they had stopped, prompting a fight that ended when Noyer was knocked out.
But prosecutors say Lelandais knew full well he was killing Noyer, and then put his body in the trunk of his car and drove it some 20 kilometres (12 miles) away to dump it on the side of a road.
They have charged him with voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
Investigators only linked Lelandais to Noyer’s death after he was arrested over the murder of Maelys, who vanished in the early hours of August 27, 2017, while attending a wedding near Chambery with her parents.
Police searched for months for the girl before arresting Lelandais, who was also a guest at the wedding. He finally led them to her remains in February 2018 after traces of her blood were found in his car.
The two cases sparked fears that Lelandais could be involved in dozens of other unsolved disappearances in the region, and investigators reopened several cases after reviewing his background and movements over several years.
Despite three years of inquiries, however, and psychiatric exams that have revealed signs of Lelandais’s “pathological lying”, no evidence has emerged to link Lelandais to other cases.
The trial over Noyer’s killing is set to run until May 12. His trial over Maelys’s death is expected next year.
We take you to discover a magnificent stately home located in France’s Loire Valley. The Château of Cheverny is listed as a historical monument and it also inspired Tintin creator Hergé for the family home of Captain Haddock. One in three visitors to Cheverny comes for the world of Tintin, an important source of income. The same family has carefully maintained the castle and grounds for more than six centuries, with each generation laying a new stone to the edifice.
An anti-corruption group has submitted a legal complaint in France against Lebanon’s central bank governor over foreign investments including property he owns worth millions of euros, two people involved in the filing said on Monday.
Sherpa, a non-governmental organisation that defends victims of economic crimes, said in a statement that it and a group of lawyers had filed the complaint on Friday over “suspicious” real estate purchases in France.
Central Bank Governor Riad Salemeh told Reuters he had proved and shown documents on many occasions highlighting that the source of his wealth was acquired before taking up his post in 1993.
“I have also declared that my properties in France were acquired prior to being governor,” he said.
Salameh’s brother, son and an associate are also named in the legal complaint, said Laura Rousseau, head of the illicit financial flows programme at Sherpa.
“We are targeting the ill-gotten gains acquired in France and more specifically we are targeting the numerous investments overseas that make the suspicious origins of his (Salameh’s) fortune in France,” she told Reuters.
It is the latest complaint filed on suspected Lebanese corruption to authorities in Europe.
Salameh has dismissed previous corruption allegations against him as a smear campaign.
The 81-page complaint in France, seen by Reuters, outlines what it says are assets, companies and investment vehicles across Europe worth hundreds of millions of euros which it alleges Salameh, members of his family and his associates used over years to divert funds out of Lebanon.
France’s National Financial Prosecutor, where the complaint was filed with the Collective Association of Victims of Fraudulent and Criminal Practices in Lebanon, was not immediately available for comment.
The complaint also lists almost 20 senior Lebanese politicians and suggests that bank owners and shareholders who could also be targeted in the future.
Lebanon faces a financial crisis in which banks have blocked most transfers abroad and cut access to deposits as dollars grew scarce. The meltdown has dragged down the currency, prompted a sovereign default and fuelled widespread poverty.
“At the end of this affair, France will have to ensure that ill-gotten funds will be returned to serve the general interest, improve the living conditions of the Lebanese, strengthen the rule of law and fight against corruption,” Sherpa said.
Napoleon Bonaparte’s Anglophobia stretched back to his days as an obscure young Corsican at French military academies. After his stupendous rise to Emperor, it was the British who smashed his navy at Trafalgar and exiled him to St Helena after the Duke of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo. FRANCE 24 looks back on Napoleon’s antagonism against the country he cast as “perfidious Albion”.
Napoleon Bonaparte’s French Empire was crumbling in 1813 after his disastrous invasion of Russia. The Sixth Coalition – of Britain, Russia, Prussia, Austria, Sweden, Spain and Portugal – was ranged against him. He ordered the French people to refer to Britain as “perfidious Albion”, making this ancient insult common currency.
The first major British victory against Napoleon’s forces came when the Royal Navy under the iconic Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson sank the French fleet at the 1798 Battle of the Nile – trapping Bonaparte’s expeditionary force in Egypt.
Nelson capitalised on the Royal Navy’s dominance of the Mediterranean with his spectacular victory in the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar off the southwestern coast of Napoleon’s then ally Spain. Nelson was fatally wounded by a French musket shot as 27 British ships took on 33 French and Spanish ships. The Royal Navy lost none of its fleet; 22 Franco-Spanish ships were destroyed. Nelson’s victory ensured that Napoleon was unable to mount an invasion across the English Channel.
After invading Portugal in 1807, Napoleon turned against his Spanish ally the following year – forcing King Ferdinand VII to abdicate and installing his brother Joseph Bonaparte in his place. Britain intervened, safeguarding Portugal from Napoleonic forces and using it as a platform to aid Spanish in guerrilla attacks on his army.
The decisive win in this Peninsular War came when the British commander, then Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington led British, Spanish and Portuguese troops to victory in the 1813 Battle of Vitoria.
The Sixth Coalition invaded France and forced Napoleon to abdicate in 1814. Wellington was elevated to Duke in honour of his victorious Pensinsular campaign. The following year Bonaparte escaped from his Elba exile, swept into France and went back on the offensive. The Duke of Wellington and Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher stopped him at Waterloo – “the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life”, as the Duke famously described it – and the British consigned the diminutive titan to their isolated south Atlantic outpost St Helena.
FRANCE 24 discussed Napoleon’s enmity and defeats against Britain with historian Andrew Roberts, author of the acclaimed biography Napoleon the Great.
The historian J.E. Cookson has described the change from fighting revolutionary France to fighting Napoleon as one in which “a police action against a revolutionary regime had become a war of national survival”. How did this process unfold for Britain?
That quote is an excellent summation of the problem that Britain faced after the Brumaire coup of 1799, because from having a rather moribund government with a brilliant general in Napoleon Bonaparte, suddenly you had an extraordinarily energetic French government under that same general – who really changed everything when he became First Consul that year.
It put the British government in a much more difficult position that it was in hitherto, when it just thought it could keep the Revolutionary Wars like the proverbial one between the whale and the wolf, where the whale – the Royal Navy – couldn’t really damage France, but the wolf in control of the land – France – couldn’t really damage Britain either. But suddenly you had the real danger – certainly from 1802 to 1805 – of a French invasion. Napoleon only needed to have one day of good weather and a bit of luck in the English Channel, and had he landed any kind of extensive army in Kent or Sussex, he’d have been in London within a week.
What explains Britain’s military success – especially that of the Royal Navy – against the indubitable military genius Bonaparte?
It was really down to training. The Royal Navy had to stay at sea for 90 percent of the time when it was blockading Toulon and Brest and various other French ports (and Spanish ports when the Spaniards went into the war on Napoleon’s side in 1805). So you had these ships in Nelson’s navy that were at sea pretty much all the time.
They also had more gunpowder and more shot. After having spent so long at sea blockading France, the Royal Navy’s training meant that it could fire broadsides twice as fast as the French navy. That’s the real explanation for why you don’t get any significant French naval victories in the Revolutionary or Napoleonic Wars.
And for all his genius in so many areas, Napoleon had a lacuna really when it came to sea fighting. He didn’t really understand the difference between leeward and windward – and though he was born on an island, Corsica, he didn’t really recognise that you couldn’t just assume that a larger number of ships in a fleet engagement was going to win. He wasn’t close to admirals in the same way that he was to his marshals with whom he went on campaign.
What kind of tactics did the likes of Nelson and Wellington use to defeat Napoleon?
When he was fighting both in the Peninsula and Waterloo, Wellington was fighting coalition warfare – and that was tremendously important and played to his strengths. He was fluent in French; he admired the Portuguese and the Spanish, especially their regular forces. He had a natural affinity as a coalition fighter. The Napoleonic Wars could not have been won – rather like the Second World War – without the invasion of Russia going very badly. But where Britain was able to add value was these attacks on the periphery – that’s what we were very good at.
One important area – and this started very badly in the Napoleonic Wars, but they got much better at it – was the co-operation between the army and the navy. You also find that there was a great overhaul in 1808-09 by Prince Frederick, Duke of York, who is in many ways under-appreciated by history. Although he wasn’t a very good general – he was of course the grand old Duke of York who had 10,000 men – he was an extremely able administrator. The army he put in the Peninsula was updated; it had an element of meritocracy to it; it was paid regularly and so on. And the Duke of York requires a real pat on the back for everything he learned during the Napoleonic Wars.
With regard to Nelson, the strategy he used at Trafalgar was rather like the one used by Admiral Sir George Rodney at the Battle of the Saintes [a major British naval victory over the French in the Caribbean in 1782 during the American War of Independence] where you split your forces into two and attack your enemy at right-angles.
But the wonderful thing about Nelson was that he was always on the offensive. He understood that being on the offensive was a huge advantage in and of itself in the age of fighting sail. And if you look at what he did at the Nile where he managed to get his forces on both sides of the French fleet at Aboukir Bay – before fighting a different kind of action at Copenhagen [an 1801 British victory against the Danish fleet] – he was able to mould his strategy according to the wind direction in a completely brilliant way.
What both Nelson and Wellington did was to use the circumstances to their advantage.
For Napoleon, Britain was famously “perfidious Albion” and a “nation of shopkeepers”. As you noted in Napoleon the Great, this animus against the British was already evident in Bonaparte’s youth — what accounts for it?
When he went to Angers and Brienne as a military academician, he was taught by people whose major formative influence was the Seven Years War. And of course the French had been absolutely trounced by the British in the Seven Years War. So he grew up very much in an atmosphere of Anglophobia.
Although it’s well worth pointing out that when he met individual English people, certainly when he was at Elba, in campaigns, in the run-up to the Battle of Waterloo, he got on well with them.
He met well over a dozen English people. He was very friendly with Lord John Russell [subsequently a Liberal prime minister, who as a young man visited Napoleon] when he was at Elba; [prominent Whig politician and fan of the French Revolution] Charles James Fox was another example.
Napoleon liked English people when he met them; he just obviously didn’t when he thought of them en masse.
The French prosecutor’s department said on Monday that there were no grounds to pursue legal claims that France bore responsibility for enabling the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
Rwanda last month published a report in which it said that France was aware that genocide was being prepared in Rwanda ahead of the killings.
France’s top prosecutor, Remy Heitz, said in a statement that investigations carried out by French authorities could not prove any complicity by French troops in the killings which were orchestrated by the Hutu-led government.
Between April and July 1994, some 800,000 people were killed, most from the ethnic Tutsi minority but also some moderate Hutus.
Ever since the genocide, critics of France’s role have said that then French President Francois Mitterrand failed to prevent the massacres or even supported the Hutu-led government.
Hundreds of people flouted France’s coronavirus curfew over the weekend with underground parties in at least two cities, while police managed to prevent organisers from staging a mass rave in Paris, officials said Sunday.
On Saturday near the eastern city of Dijon, nearly 400 people gathered at an abandoned hangar before police managed to cut power to the sound system at around 2am Sunday.
Police also used tear gas to prevent dozens of others from trying to sneak in despite efforts to clear the premises.
Two people were detained, including the suspected organiser, and police issued 205 fines for non-respect of the nationwide curfew that starts at 7pm.
“This event is totally irresponsible given the health crisis in the country,” the government’s top regional official Fabien Sudry told AFP.
Another illegal party was discovered late Friday in Haut-Corlay, a village in the western Brittany region, that attracted some 500 people.
Despite a police intervention, many people stayed overnight at the site on Saturday as well, though all had left by Sunday morning, police said. Nearly 330 fines for Covid infractions were issued.
Police in Paris, meanwhile, thwarted a rave planned in an industrial zone near the city’s southeastern edge, detaining three people including a suspected organiser for endangerment.
“These people would do better to stay home, and be patient a little bit longer,” Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti told France Inter radio.
President Emmanuel Macron last week acknowledged the eagerness to exit the country’s third virus lockdown as he announced a phased lifting of the restrictions over the next two months.
Secondary schools will reopen Monday and the nationwide curfew will be pushed back to 9pm on May 19, when cafés and restaurants will be allowed to reopen for outdoor seating only.
On May 5, 1821, Napoleon Bonaparte died aged 51, imprisoned on the isolated British outpost of St Helena in the south Atlantic. The diminutive Corsican who went from obscure French artillery officer to the Emperor dominating continental Europe is still a fierce subject of contention 200 years after his death. Was he a visionary genius or brutal tyrant – or indeed a combination of the two?
Renowned early-19th century French writer and diplomat François-René de Chateaubriand summed up the fraught ambivalence Napoleon has long provoked: “This man whose genius I admire and whose despotism I abhor.”
In France many Bonaparte fans call him “the Eagle” – lauding an ingenious military strategist who spread liberal French Enlightenment ideals throughout the continent. Detractors cast him as “the Ogre” – a blood-stained megalomaniac who restored slavery and whose wars plunged Europe into chaos.
FRANCE 24 discussed the many facets of Napoleon Bonaparte – and the politics of memory surrounding him – with Charles-Éloi Vial, author of several books on him including Napoléon – La Certitude et ambition (“Napoleon: Certainty and Ambition”).
Napoleon’s rise was meteoric: He was just a young artillery officer from France’s furthest periphery in Corsica when the Revolution broke out in 1789, rose to the fore when he saved revolutionary France’s ruling Directory in 1795 by facing down royalist insurgents, became First Consul of the Republic in 1799 and was crowned Emperor of the French in 1804. Was he a brilliant visionary or a horrible tyrant?
Both terms are arguably too strong. One has to see the nuance in history – that Napoleon shouldn’t be seen in black and white but rather in shades of grey. His rule over France had some very positive aspects, most notably in terms of modernising administration. But he was highly authoritarian. You can definitely see that he favoured the French revolutionary ideal of equality over that of liberty – in ways that look shocking today. But more than a visionary or tyrant, Napoleon was quite simply a human being – with all of a human’s virtues and flaws.
Bonaparte’s vision took him to great heights from obscure origins – making him Emperor at 35. But it was also hubristic – as demonstrated by his disastrous 1812 invasion of Russia, his foolhardy decisions to go back to war in 1813 and 1814, his stubborn refusal to sign a peace deal and then, of course, his flight from Elba and final defeat [at the Duke of Wellington’s hands] at Waterloo in 1815. Napoleon’s vaulting ambition was his downfall.
To start with everything was a success, especially in military campaigns on land – such as his victory against a larger Austrian and Russian force at Austerlitz in 1805, exactly one year after his coronation as Emperor. But Napoleon was intoxicated by this triumph. He didn’t know how to ease off.
Napoleon said that he loved war like an artist. He was very much at ease on battlefields – where he could display his extraordinary military skills, which even his bitterest enemies readily acknowledged. Bonaparte’s main objective was to defend revolutionary France until 1808. At that point, you can see his ambition carried him away. In the Peninsular War in Spain – and especially in Russia – it was clear that Napoleon was waging war for an idea of glory. The stakes got higher and higher, the death toll mounted and the battles became even more blood-soaked.
It has often been said that Napoleon didn’t really care about human pain – was this really the case?
First-hand testimonies give contradictory views on this. Some people who knew Napoleon described him as completely insensitive – but others said he was very attentive if anyone was sick, and his letters show him urging his wife and his brothers to take particular remedies when they were ill.
You could say that there was a difference between how he acted as a military leader and how he acted in his private life. His order in 1804 to kill plague-stricken French soldiers in Jaffa [in modern-day Israel] who were fighting in his Egyptian campaign has always been regarded as a sign of heartlessness.
But at other times – even on the battlefield, where he would force himself to be callous – he was deeply moved by the horrors of war, especially after the [ferocious, inconclusive] Battle of Eylau [against Russian and Prussian forces in 1807], where he was shaken by the image of blood-soaked snow.
Napoleon is understandably admired in France for creating the modern, centralised state – and the extraordinarily influential Civil Code legal system he formed in 1804. But the Code imposed a patriarchal model, affirming married women’s legal incapacity. And after his famous marriage to Joséphine de Beauharnais, he dumped her because she did not produce an heir. Would it be appropriate to call Napoleon a misogynist?
Napoleon was no immune to the prejudices of his time – although it should be noted that the Civil Code, deeply flawed though it was, gave women a certain degree of legal status. There was a difference, meanwhile, between the letter of the law and conditions on the ground in Napoleonic France: A lot of recent archival research shows that many women developed independence as the sole managers of businesses and farms during that period.
Bonaparte used the prejudices of the time to discredit enemies such as Germaine de Staël [a French woman of letters famous for urging political moderation].
However, he held many women in high esteem, seeking advice from many including Joséphine. More than that: He was the first political leader to give a woman responsibility for a diplomatic mission, in the case of the Countess of Brignole in 1813. He also appointed his second wife, Austrian archduchess Marie-Louise as his regent, signing imperial decrees in his place for a year and a half.
As First Consul, Bonaparte decided in 1802 to reinstate slavery “in accordance with the laws prior to 1789”, after the Convention then ruling France abolished it in 1794. At present, this is the main criticism made against Napoleon. Is this criticism justified?
Napoleon was ambivalent about slavery: He freed hundreds of slaves in Malta in 1798, then forcibly enlisted slaves in the army he sent to Egypt weeks later. For years, one of his closest servants was a former slave, the Mamluk Roustam Raza dit Roustan.
The re-establishment of slavery was an atrocious moral failing. It was shocking at the time and quite rightly still shocks us today. Bonaparte was arguably acting without sufficient thought, seeking short-term economic gains in the pursuit of stability; this was sadly symptomatic of his approach to power – in which calculations of expediency too often cast aside great ideals.
He probably ended up regretting this decision – as suggested by his order to end France’s role in the slave trade during his brief return to power in 1815.
That said, it is very good that the issue of slavery is being addressed when people think about Napoleon today.
Two hundred years on from Napoleon’s death, there are some in France who say we should not commemorate his bicentenary – do you agree with them or not?
The question is what exactly we should be commemorating in 2021. The way I see it, above all else it’s a matter of remembering that the death of Napoleon marked the end of an extraordinary, tragic, complex chapter in France’s history that started with the Revolution in 1789.
His actions made a colossal mark on the lives of millions of French people who lived under his reign and we should perhaps focus as well on remembering their various experiences – whether as soldiers or civilians.
The bicentenary is also an opportunity for historians to take stock of and to publicise nearly six decades of research since the bicentenary of his birth in 1969 – which was a landmark in the shift from a public image of Napoleon as just an ingenious force of nature to a much more nuanced understanding of his character.
The issue of slavery in the Napoleonic First French Empire has been increasingly explored through archival research – as well as the history of homosexuality and that of women during this era, and more technical questions about the workings of the Napoleonic administration.
There is still a lot to discover about Napoleon, even though he’s one of the most studied historical figure in the world. So the hype around the bicentenary is an excellent opportunity to make the most recent academic research known to as many people as possible. And if there is an aura of controversy, that’s arguably because critical historical analysis has come to influence the public perception of Napoleon at the expense of earlier myths and legends.
More emergency medical aid from foreign donors to alleviate a dire oxygen shortage arrived in India on Sunday, as Covid-19 deaths in the South Asian nation rose to a new record.
India is setting almost-daily records for new infections and deaths as the virus crisis engulfs overstretched hospitals in cities and spreads into rural regions.
The country of 1.3 billion reported 3,689 deaths on Sunday — the highest single-day rise yet in the pandemic, to take the overall toll to more than 215,000.
Just under 400,000 infections were added, bringing the total number of cases past 19.5 million.
The latest figures came as medical equipment, including oxygen-generation plants, was flown into the capital New Delhi from France and Germany as part of a huge international effort.
“We are here because we are bringing help that… will save lives,” Germany’s ambassador to India, Walter J. Lindner, said as 120 ventilators arrived late Saturday.
“Out there the hospitals are full. People are sometimes dying in front of the hospitals. They have no more oxygen. Sometimes (they are dying) in their cars.”
French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said his country wanted to show solidarity with India.
“The epidemic is still going on in one country. The world won’t be safe until we are all safe. So it’s a matter of urgency,” he said early Sunday following the delivery of eight oxygen-generation plants and dozens of ventilators from France.
SOS calls for oxygen
There are growing fears about the surge of the virus in rural regions where health infrastructure is already patchy and limited.
Hospitals in Delhi have continued to issue SOS calls for oxygen on social media, with the latest appeal posted by a children’s hospital on Twitter on Sunday.
The plea came a day after up to a dozen patients died at a Delhi hospital amid an oxygen shortage, local media reported.
India on Saturday opened up its inoculation drive to all adults, but supplies are running low and only online enrolments are allowed for those aged under 45.
“It is a necessity now. We are seeing so many people testing positive,” data scientist Megha Srivastava, 35, told AFP outside a Delhi vaccination centre as she waited for her shot.
“We are coming from 20 kilometres (12 miles) away as this was the only place available.”
Experts have called on the government to allow more flexibility in the vaccine rollout, particularly in poorer rural areas where there is lower internet penetration.
“We should procure sufficient vaccines, then plan bottom-up through… the primary health centre level,” Bangalore-based public health expert Hemant Shewade told AFP.
“Take vaccines to the people the way we have implemented our polio and measles campaigns.”
Ten sites in Switzerland, France and Italy have been added to a conservation organisation’s ‘green list’ of well managed protected areas.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published on Tuesday its “Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas”, which counts a total of 59 sites around the world.
It now includes seven new sites in France, two in Italy and for the first time a site in Switzerland.
The sites are based on 17 criteria in four areas: “good governance, robust design and planning, effective management and effective conservation outcomes”.
“Effective protected and conserved areas are critical if we are to halt the dramatic loss of life on Earth we are seeing,” said IUCN Director General Dr Bruno Oberle.
“As IUCN and the global community call for the protection of 30% of our planet’s surface by 2030, IUCN Green List sites provide the best examples of effectiveness and inclusiveness, which are essential for our efforts to succeed.”
The IUCN, along with a coalition of states led by France and Costa Rica, is calling for 30% of the planet to be protected by 2030, as part of the negotiations on biodiversity protection ahead of COP15 in China this autumn.
The new certified sites in France are the Coloraie du Volcan reserve on Reunion Island, the Contamines-Montjoie national nature reserve (Haute-Savoie), the marshes of the low valleys of the Essonne and Juine rivers (Ile-de-France), the Tour du Valat estate (Bouches-du-Rhône), the Sainte-Victoire national nature reserve (Bouches-du-Rhône), the Haut-Giffre and Aiguilles Rouges national nature reserves (Savoie) and the Natura 2000 site Bassin du Drugeon (Jura).
France now has 22 sites on the list, the highest number of any country.
The two protected Italian areas joining the list are the Arcipelago Toscano National Park and the Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona and Campigna National Park.
The Swiss National Park also became the first Green List site in Switzerland. It is a strict nature reserve, where human activity is virtually banned, with 170 square kilometres of forests, subalpine and alpine meadows, as well as rocks and screes.
Police scuffled with protesters in Paris on Saturday, firing tear gas as thousands turned out across France for May Day workers’ rights demonstrations.
A police source told AFP that far-left “black bloc” protesters had repeatedly tried to block the trade union-led march in the French capital, with 34 people detained.
Some protesters smashed the windows of bank branches, set fire to dustbins and threw projectiles at police, who responded with volleys of tear gas and stingball grenades. An injured policeman had to be evacuated, an AFP journalist saw.
The CGT union said nearly 300 May day protests were planned around the country, with authorities expecting around 100,000 demonstrators to join them in total.
The crowds held placards with different demands, ranging from the end of the nighttime curfew in place as part of coronavirus restrictions, to a halt to unemployment reforms due to come into force in July.
Members of the yellow vest anti-elite movement, which rocked Emmanuel Macron‘s presidency two years ago before largely fizzling out, could also be spotted at protests up and down the country.
Five people were arrested in the southeastern city of Lyon as black bloc protesters again clashed with police at the demonstration, which drew some 3,000 people despite the rain.
“There are so many motivations for a revolt that are building up — the management of Covid, the so-called reforms that are going to take away people’s ability to live, job-seekers who are going to lose their benefits,” said a pensioner who gave her name as Patricia.
“We absolutely need to express ourselves,” the 66-year-old said.