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What the papers said 3 July 2018

rfi English, Jul 3

France's jailbreak king remains at large 48 hours after his escape; senate report raises alarm about the waning morale of security forces; and President Macron's G-5 force lies one bridge too far.

We begin with a flurry of reactions to the daring escape from a Paris prison of notorious French gangster Redoine Faïd, whose break-out via helicopter at the weekend was worthy of the Hollywood heist movies he is known to admire.

Le Parisien says on top of 2900 policemen and gendarmes involved in a large scale search operation to find the "Jailbreak King" a hundred more judicial investigators are struggling to understand how Faîd, who staged a previous escape in 2013, managed to repeat his exploit after being transferred to the Réau prison southeast of Paris.

According to Le Journal de Haute-Marne it is hard to imagine how prisons could be spared by the threats coming from the skies like drones intercepted while delivering mobile phones to prisoners.

In Faïd's case it observes, his accomplices probably didn't have much to do other than a little night scouting. The truth it says, is that there are more sensible places which are also exposed to spying such as nuclear stations frequently flown over and accessible to the tiny engines and ill-intentioned groups.

For le Journal de la haute Marne decision makers need to keep in mind that drones can be used at all times by terrorists on French territory as the Islamic State did in Iraq against coalition forces.

According to Le Républicain Lorrain, if Redoine Faïd ends up being found, it would deprive the French of a summer thriller but more importantly as the paper puts it, it would fix the affairs of the Justice Minister possibly spending sleepless nights asking the same question, if he has been found.

The Republican says while professionals of controversy are feeding fat on Faïd's great escape, one voice has gone unheard – that of a unionists who warned the authorities about security defects at the Réau prison, constructed under tight budgetary constraints

Midi Libre says while it may look untidy and messy to send 2,900 gendarmes and police officers after the jailbreak king, doing otherwise would be not reckless but also a source of embarrassment to Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet.

It criticizes her for waiting until Faïd's escape before responding to longstanding demands to send an inspection mission to France's prisons. The paper claims that such failures are only likely to worsen the waning popularity of President Macron's government.

And talking about President Macron, Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace posts a comment about his on-going visit to Africa as he flew to Nigeria on Monday after attending an African Union Summit in Mauritania. The publication’s matter of interest is the "G5 Sahel» Force that was expected to be composed of troops from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania to secure the region.

The Alsace newspaper says that while the mission is still at a teething stage, its deployment remains urgent, considering the increasing activity of Jihadists in the region despite five years of French military presence in the region.

Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace says Macron has set out to remobilise signatory governments and to boost the force. But as it warns, it will take more than the beautiful speech Macron delivered in Ouagadougou in December to boost cooperation among the G-5 countries.

According to the newspaper it is also because financial pledges made by EU and Arab nations have not been honoured.

Today's le Figaro takes up disturbing findings by a Senate investigation about the waning morale of forces of law and order as they struggle under pressure from rising demands from the security-minded government and the population while putting their lives and those of their families at risk as they go about their duties.

The right-wing publication describes the syndrome as the "Magnanville effect", named after the Parisian suburb where two police officers were assassinated by an Islamist knifeman in June 2016.

Le Figaro says the terrorist attack has continued to haunt members of the security forces, many demoralized by mounting tasks and judicial setbacks to their work, despite the recruitment of 9,000 more gendarmes and police officers.


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