Saturday, 30 October 2010

A Freudian Slip dans le Pays de la Liberté

It’s 5th November next week and I’ve got a big bonfire I could light in the potager! I was thinking of inviting some friends over but to give the occasion a French flavour I really need to think of a French Guy Fawkes. Preferably one that doesn’t put me at risk of being held in “garde à vue” for 48 hours like the poor guy who wrote several emails to Rachida Dati asking for une petite inflation! see this article and this one

I think he really meant to write f*ll*tion and his fingers got side tracked on the keyboard! Just like her mouth did in this interview on 26th September 2010 on Canal+. But there again perhaps not!

All I can say is «c’est vraiment scandaleux d’affronter une belle personnage publique comme ca»!
Anyway she says that she felt threatened and made a complaint.  The result was that the man had his computer confiscated and his apartment searched. He was then held under arrest for 48 hours.

Under the current French rules of arrest or “garde à vue” (soon to be changed because they were found not to conform to european law) when you are arrested you are not allowed to talk to a lawyer and you can be denied the right to telephone anyone if the police consider that it might be detrimental to their enquiry (I know of one case where this was applied to a middle aged white skinned woman who was over the limit when breathalysed). The police take your clothes away and give you a thin one-piece suit. Usually the cells are unheated and foul. It is also normal procedure to carry out an invasive body search. This is officially in case you feel like committing suicide and you may have concealed something in a dark place to help you do so! Unofficially it is clearly part of a process intended to humiliate and diminish your resistance to interrogation. There have also been eye witness reports of violence by the police in a number of cases. On 27th January 2010 the Ministry of the Interior accepted that the number of people held under this regime was 800,000 in 2009. You can be arrested and thrown in jail for minor offences like not carrying your identity card or for committing certain traffic offences. Above all never be rude to the police because that is enough on its own to give him or her a reason to arrest you for “Outrage”. (An offence by which you call into question the honour of a public official in the exercise of his or her functions). The numbers of people held in “garde à vue” have multiplied by a factor of 3 since 2003 because the police have been given targets to achieve. This excellent article by Vincent Duclert (in French) gives all the background.

Rachida Dati knows very well what happens to people put in “garde à vue” because she was appointed Minister of Justice by Nicholas Sarkozy in May 2007. In September 2008, however, she announced that she was pregnant and refused to identify the father. All she would say was that her private life was complicated, her baby girl Zohra was born on 2nd January 2009. In June 2009, after having been elected to the European Parliament and whilst retaining her post as mayor of VIIe arondissement of Paris she resigned her post as Minister of Justice.

As a result of her ill-judged complaint against this misguided but unfortunate man she has ensured that the episode of her Freudian slip of the tongue has been propagated everywhere in France and will almost certainly go round the world. He risks up to six months in prison and a fine of 7,500 euros for the specific offence of “Outrage”.  Le Procureur de la République de Valence, Antoine Paganelli, considers that there is nothing disproportionate about the case and that her function as a member of the European Parliament was at risk of being degraded. Clearly ex-government ministers like her need the full protection of the law in a situation like this!

So if I dressed up the Guy in black clothes with a long dark wig, a suitable hat and forgot about the beard and moustache, I could have a traditional Guy Fawkes even though I would know who it really was this year! I might even let my guests in on the secret too, so long as their sons weren’t gendarmes, like those of my next door neighbour!


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