SHARE
COPY LINK

CORSICA

Riots shake Corsica over assault of jailed nationalist figure

Violent clashes broke out between protesters and police overnight on France's Mediterranean island of Corsica as anger intensified over the assault in prison of a nationalist figure.

Riots shake Corsica over assault of jailed nationalist figure
Protests in Ajaccio in support of jailed Corsican nationalist Yvan Colonna turned violent. (Photo: Pascal Pochard-Casabianca / AFP)

Yvan Colonna, who is serving a life sentence for the assassination in 1998 of Corsica’s top regional official, Claude Erignac, is currently in a coma after being beaten on March 2nd by a fellow detainee serving time for terror offences.

The incident has stoked anger on the island where some still see Colonna – who was arrested only in 2003 after a five-year manhunt that eventually found him living as a shepherd in the Corsican mountains – as a hero in a fight for independence.

Hundreds demonstrated in the main Corsican cities of Ajaccio, Calvi and Bastia with the protests rapidly degenerating into clashes with security forces.

In Ajaccio, protesters broke into the main justice building, setting fire to scrap papers. They then went on to ransack a bank.

Local authorities said 14 people were wounded in Ajaccio alone, including a journalist for France’s TF1 TV channel, who was wounded in the leg.

Colonna was jailed in the south of France with authorities long rejecting his demand to be transferred to Corsica, saying his offence made him a special status detainee.

In a bid to ease tensions, Prime Minister Jean Castex on Tuesday removed this status, but the move was seen as too little too late by Colonna’s supporters in Corsica.

French prosecutors have charged Colonna’s alleged jail assailant, Franck Elong Abe, with attempted murder in association with a terror group.

According to France’s top anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard, Franck Elong Abe had confessed to the attack, saying he had been angered by “blasphemous statements” made by Colonna while behind bars.

Member comments

  1. France should show steely determination in arresting all terrorists and rioters, we can’t have these people ruining French society.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

CRIME

French ex-minister convicted in fake jobs scam

A French court on Thursday found former justice minister Michel Mercier guilty of embezzlement in a fake jobs scheme he ran for the benefit of family members.

French ex-minister convicted in fake jobs scam

Mercier, 75, who served under former president Nicolas Sarkozy between 2010 and 2012, claimed tens of thousands of euros for his wife and daughter for parliamentary jobs  they never carried out.

The court handed him a suspended prison sentence of three years.

Mercier gave “personal gain precedence over the public good”, the court said in its verdict, calling Mercier’s actions “serious”.

As senator, Mercier claimed 50,000 euros ($54,000 at today’s rate) in salary for his wife Joelle between 2005 and 2009, and  €37,000 for his daughter Delphine between 2012 and 2014.

During that time, Delphine Mercier was living in London and did not set foot in the French Senate, but her father claimed she was acting as his “cultural advisor”.

Neither Mercier nor his daughter were able to provide any proof of actual work done.

Joelle Mercier, meanwhile, claimed during the trial that she had served as her husband’s representative at village fairs and funerals.

She was found guilty of conspiracy to embezzle public funds and of receiving stolen money and sentenced to a suspended prison term of 18 months and a €40,000 fine.

The court handed the daughter a 12-month suspended sentence and a fine of €10,000.

Prosecutors had asked for the ex-minister to serve one year behind bars, accusing him of “creating smoke screens” in his defence and seeking to mislead the court.

Mercier had based part of his defence on his rural roots, pitting his “common sense” against the “Parisians” of the national financial crimes unit PNF.

Several French politicians have been convicted for similar offences committed before France in 2017 banned National Assembly deputies and senators from employing family members.

The move came in reaction to a public outcry over a high-profile case involving former right-wing prime minister Francois Fillon, who was found guilty of providing a fake parliamentary assistant job to his wife that saw her paid hundreds of thousands of euros in public funds.

The “Penelopegate” scandal, revealed in a media report while he was the front-runner in the 2017 presidential race, torpedoed  his political career and cleared a path for then-relatively unknown Emmanuel Macron.

Last year, a court trimmed Fillon’s sentence to four years in prison with three suspended — down from five years with three suspended when he was first found guilty in 2020.

SHOW COMMENTS