All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Round up the usual suspects....

Le gendarme en baladeImage via Wikipedia

There'll be more than a few uneasy heads wearing caps, kepis and cagoules today. The suspects rounded up with so much acclaim in the case of the envelopes containing ammunition sent to prominent politicians have all been released without charge. The heads wouldn't be quite so uneasy if one of those targeted had not been the President of the French Republic who is renowned for wanting results yesterday in any affair touching his sacred person.
I posted earlier....'Sarkozy's scooter'...about the efforts deployed by the Paris police when his son's scooter was stolen.....and again.....'Sarkozy's septic tank'....about what happened to the local Prefet when mother in law didn't get her sewage sorted, while other officials have been sidelined abruptly for not defusing demonstrations when the President honoured their department with his presence. I wonder which one got brownie points recently for lining up all the short arses behind the President at a recent visit to a factory in Normandy so that he looked as though he were of normal height when his address was televised.

In this case, a number of letters have been addressed to prominent politicians over the last year, some with death threats, some containing ammunition, some making political demands like halting the deportation of illegal immigrants, all supposedly emanating from something called 'cellule 34', all supposedly fairly illiterate and all posted from the south of France. Three have been addressed to Sarkozy and, as far as he is concerned, that is three too many. He wants the matter cleared
The Sdat (sous direction antiterroriste) have been interviewing 'revolutionaries' a tobacconist who publishes a newsheet classed as being 'proletarian' in content - whatever that might mean - and, according to reports in the 'Depeche du Midi' the police have been amusing themselves by harassing anyone who has raised their head against established authority in the area round Lamalou les Bains in the Herault department. Notably those who oppose the massive windfarm that has been installed causing problems of noise pollution. And those who opposed the installation of a waste disposal site in 2003.
None of this activity has produced results. An ex member of the Foreign Legion was interviewed having been denounced by his ex girlfriend - how French - but with no positive results, and there the matter rested until the last letter to Sarkozy was discovered in the sorting office in Montpellier.
At this point, the August holidays being over, the solids hit the fan. Results were required. Action this day. Sarkozy expects that every man will do.....whatever it takes.
They did. In a sudden closing of the dragnet, the police arrested eleven suspects and took them into custody under anti terrorist legislation which allows them to be interviewed without lawyers being present for a period of forty eight hours, the which period being renewable. One thing struck me...usually you see suspects with their heads under blankets and the police clearly visible. In this case, the photographs show the 'suspects' clearly while the police are wearing balaclavas! I know who looks more like a terrorist to me!
Who were these suspects? Well, the tobacconist, of course. Among the others, a plumber, a butcher, several old age pensioners, an architect, a dentist and, wonder of wonders......a notaire! A revolutionary notaire? I don't think so....there hasn't been one since Robespierre, and look what happened to him, dragged to the guillotine with a broken jaw. Enough to discourage any future notaire from revolutionary practices.
Twelve more people were interviewed in their homes, handwriting samples taken, copies of their computers hard drives removed and DNA samples required.

Alas for the careers of the caps, kepis and cagoules, all this was in vain. Gradually, one by one, the suspects were released without charge until the last, Pierre Blondeau, emerged after more than thirty hours of interrogation, directed, according to him, from Sarkozy's HQ, the Elysee Palace, by its' Secretary General, Claude Gueant. Nothing has been proved against him nor against the others and he and they want answers as to why they have been harassed.
The problem is, everyone knows why. It is the secret of Polichinelle...the one everyone knows but no one reveals....the Head of State wants results and his employees strain every sinew to get them, justified or not. Local militants are viewed as dangerous revolutionaries, judges sign permits to arrest them and the police interrogate them. It is not healthy for the state of justice in France...and it hasn't done anything to find the real culprits.

Sarkozy should get a grip.....he is more likely to die from the effects of the diet imposed on him by his wife than at the hands of a few malcontents from the Midi.

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  1. Your wonderfully enlightning post brings a whole new meaning to the words 'French Farce'.

    Here was me thinking that the UK was the only country full to the brim with bumbling politicians.

  2. Jimmy Bastard, French farce, certainly, but there's an unpleasant undercurrent of settling local scores going on here too.
    The U.K. has no monopoly, alas!

  3. The old Chinese curse again, "May you come to the attention.." etc, etc.

    I've nearly always enjoyed my many trips into France, but a vivid memory of being held up at gunpoint by the gendarmes at a picnic site has left me somewhat wary of the powers that be there.

    Fortunately for me, one of the gendarmes was the son of Spanish immigrants, so we were able to communicate in Spanish, as any French left over from high school instantly departed from my head as I saw 3 machine guns pointing at me, and had never really prepared me for that particular conversational situation anyway.

    Actually, they probably weren't gendarmes at all, given the machine guns, and they were probably looking for ETA members (I was parked up in a Spanish van with blacked out windows...), but even so, I've had better evenings.

  4. Pueblo girl,a picnic to remember! I can see why, perhaps, you were held up if there was an ETA emergency going on, but how lucky that you could communicate in Spanish.
    What bothers me in this case of the anonymous letters is the over reaction and the targeting of people active in local politics. Why should having an opinion and voicing it leave you open to this sort of behaviour?

  5. Oh my, Sarko is just NOT having a good day!

    I remember, years ago, (really!) Paris ALWAYS suspected the south of fomenting anarchy. (Algeria and the return of the Pieds Noir, didn't help!)

    When I was a teenager, I remember my cousin and I having a heated discussion with a group of friends over how every Frenchman was a registered Communist, but under the skin they were all shopkeepers.

    Perhaps someone should tell Sarko that.

    Great post! and a really good read on the local "payback" season that comes around and around...

  6. truestarr, I remember having French communism in the south explained to me as being an association of small farmers, vignerons, shopkeepers...with the emphasis on small...whose communism was a sort of protest at the way French society can only make money if you have it to start with!
    No one should be masking threats and sending ammo, but that's what happens when you thwart legitimate expression.