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French report French report
by Euro Reporter
2009-10-27 07:31:06
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Rift at Air France over safety standards

Air France managers have sent a letter to the airline's pilots calling for stricter observance of safety procedures, following a fatal crash in June, French newspaper La Tribune reported. The paper said Air France management was responding to pressure from pilots' unions to reform security regulations following the crash of flight AF447 en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in June, which killed 228 people.
The paper said head of air operations Pierre-Marie Gautron and head of safety Etienne Lichtenberger wrote to all the airline's pilots, drawing attention to recent major incidents that took place because some pilots did not respect flight procedures. The examples given included a flight taking off despite an alarm sounding during take-off, and incorrect refueling, La Tribune said.
"The simple application of procedure would have meant these events could have been avoided. We do not need to modify procedures or create new ones," they said in the letter quoted by La Tribune.


Sarkozy slander trial ends

The politically-explosive trial of former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin and four others accused of plotting to derail Nicolas Sarkozy's bid for the presidency ended. Judges will hand down a verdict on January 28 in the case, in which Villepin claims to be the victim of a personal vendetta by the French president. The 55-year-old diplomat is charged with conspiring in 2004 to discredit Sarkozy with falsified documents, while the pair were jostling to succeed president Jacques Chirac.
Villepin accused Sarkozy of hanging him "from a butcher's hook" as prosecutors called this week for an 18-month suspended sentence against him -- far less than the maximum five years he was facing. The former prime minister also faces a a 45,000-euro (70,000-dollar) fine for complicity to slander, complicity to use forgeries, dealing in stolen property and breach of trust. The complex case centres on a fake list of account holders from the Clearstream financial clearing house who were said to have received kickbacks from the sale of French warships to Taiwan.
Sarkozy's name was on the list and the French leader -- one of 39 civil plaintiffs -- alleges the scandal was fabricated to tarnish him ahead of his party's nomination for the 2007 presidential vote, which he won. A three-year jail sentence, with all but 18 months suspended, was requested for co-defendant Jean-Louis Gergorin, a former aerospace executive who leaked the bogus list to investigators. Prosecutors called for a two-year sentence with six months suspended for Imad Lahoud, the mathematician who admitted to adding Sarkozy's name to the fake list. They asked for the acquittal of journalist Denis Robert and a four-month suspended sentence for accountant Florian Bourges, who played a minor role.


Security fears spark fresh controversy in Afghan deportation row

Days after France deported three illegal Afghan migrants, a fresh controversy was sparked over allegations that French immigration authorities got their facts wrong and that the three men hailed from dangerous areas of the war-torn country and not from relatively safe regions as French officials had earlier asserted. The three men, aged 18, 19 and 22, were put on a joint Franco-British charter flight to the Afghan capital of Kabul on Wednesday along with 24 other Afghan migrants from Britain.

It was the first such joint flight between the two EU nations and it came despite opposition from human rights groups and French opposition Socialists. Before their departure, French Immigration Minister Eric Besson assured French media outlets that the three men, whose names were not officially disclosed, came from the Kabul area, "a region where there is no risk of bodily harm," he asserted.

But shortly after the men arrived in Kabul and registered themselves at the Afghan Ministry for Refugees and Repatriation, a senior Afghan official told a French TV station that the men came from dangerous parts of Afghanistan. “I could tell you that the security situation where these three come from is pitiful,” Mohammad Omar Ayard, Afghan deputy minister for refugees, told France 2 television. “Now in this area there is war, al Qaeda and the Taliban. They can not return home and France shouldn't have deported them.”

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