Old foes return, rumors fly, and people seem to get away with murder. No, it’s not the plot of a soap opera or a particularly dramatic high school prom — it’s a quick summary of this week’s French headlines. First, let’s get started with an old, familiar face.
Sometimes timing is everything and what better moment for Nicolas Sarkozy to resurface than amidst news that François Hollande had not managed to bring down France’s chronically high unemployment rate? That’s right: Sarkozy “l’américain” is back – sort of. The former President made an appearance on Thursday in Châtelaillon-Plage, surrounded by UMP supporters. While he didn’t say for sure whether he’d throw his hat in the ring for the 2017 Presidential election – which is still three years away – he did say, “Sometimes vacations seem long to me, and they barely improve with time.” So that’s French for “yes,” right?
In one of those stranger-than-fiction tales, DNA evidence seems to have fingered the culprit of a murder that took place 27 years ago. The catch? The man in question was already acquitted years ago and in France, like in the US, a person cannot be tried for the same crime twice. Jacques Maire was the primary suspect in Nelly Haderer’s murder in 1987. He was arrested for his role in her death and that of Odile Busset, whose corpse was never found. During that trial, the primary witness testified to seeing Haderer in Maire’s car before her death but later retracted the statement and Maire was acquitted. In 2006, Maire was found guilty of Odile Busset’s murder, but instead of serving his 20-year prison sentence, he was acquitted because of a technicality (and was even awarded $270,000 for “unjust detention”). Obviously, Haderer’s family would like a new trial, but that seems unlikely. Maire, for his part, swears he’s innocent.
A children’s book on gender equality called “The ABCDs of Equality” was piloted in 10 French schools recently, but it seems it’s the parents who could benefit from reading it. Based on the fear that the book would teach their children that there are no differences between boys and girls, wild rumors soon began to fly among parents that schools were “teaching boys to become girls” and that children younger than 5 would be learning to masturbate. The President of the Principal Federation of Students’ Parents tried to clarify, stating that the book merely says that girls and boys are entitled to the same rights. He couldn’t prevent a boycott, though, which according to the Ministry of Education ended up affecting about 100 schools. The Principal Federation of Students’ Parents, the first Education Federation and the French Council of the Muslim Religion have all come out against the boycott. Minister of Education Vincent Peillon asked school principals to meet with parents to reassure them and to remind them that school is mandatory.
Dieudonné, the controversial comedian who the French government has convicted on six different occasions for hate speech against Jewish people, has found himself once again embroiled in scandal. On Wednesday, French police raided his home and the Main d’Or Theater where he performs, seizing 650,000 euros and $15,000. Police believe that Dieudonné has fraudulently filed for bankruptcy, laundered money and has abused company assets. His lawyer says that the money was obtained legally.
Police have dropped their charges against soccer players Franck Ribéry and Karim Benzema for having had sexual relations with an underage prostitute. The investigation began in the midst of the 2010 World Cup, where Ribéry played for the second time for the French national squad. The court said that it could not prove that Ribéry and Benzema knew that the young woman in question was 17 years old at the time because she constantly lied about her age. Five other people were sentenced to between five and 18 months in prison for their role in the scandal.