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French press review 25 July 2014

The big story in today’s French papers is the crash of Air Algeria Flight AH 5017 in Mali with 51 French nationals and 116 passengers and crew on board.


Libération says the passengers of the fated Swiftair charter plane took off from Ouagadougou en route to Algiers when it went missing. The Communist Party newspaper L’Humanité reports that a violent sand storm which forced the pilot of the McDonnell 83 to change flight course is being cited as a possible cause of the crash.

Dossier: War in Mali

Le Figaro reports that the debris of the chartered Swiftair plane has been located in the desert region of Gao in northern Mali. As crisis teams went to work at the Elysée presidential palace and the foreign ministry to deal with the tragedy, Le Figaro reports that experts aren’t ruling out anything, from meteorological problems, another missile attack, technical problems and even a bomb on board.

The Catholic daily La Croix looks back at the eight deadliest plane disasters in Africa over the last 12 years. They include a Kenyan Airways Airbus that went down off the coast of Abidjan killing 179 passengers and crew on board on New Year’s Eve in 2000, a second Kenyan Airways plane en route from Abidjan to Nairobi which crashed after taking off from a transit in Douala killing 114 people on board, the UTA plane that crashed in Cotonou, Benin, killing 139 people on Christmas Day in 2003 and a Nigerian airliner which came down on a populated district of Lagos in June 2012 killing 153 passenger on board.

Several French papers also take up the tragic bombardment of a UN school in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun which killed 15 people, including a woman and a baby, and injured 120 others.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

L’Humanité believes the Israeli army deliberately bombed it, knowing that hundreds of civilians had sought refuge there. It puts the number of Palestinians killed since the launch of the 18-day Israeli military operation at 720. Some 110,000 displaced residents of Gaza have so far sought protection in UN buildings in Gaza, says L’Humanité, adding that 10,000 more moved into the shelter on Wednesday alone. For the Communist Party daily the attack on Beit Hanoun is the clearest evidence yet that Israel is pursuing its ”war crimes” in the Gaza Strip.

Le Monde reports on terror of a different sought taking place in Iraq where Islamist insurgents controlling Mosul have given Christians an ultimatum. The choice is either convert to Islam or go into exile. According to the paper, the jihadists are tightening their noose around Baghdad after the failed counter-offensive launched by the country’s army.

Le Monde also comments about the unbearable execution of a man in Arizona. The death by injection of Joseph Woods turned into a disaster, it reports, after the inefficient lethal products left him in agony for two hours. L’Humanité reports that the man had spent 23 years on death row in an Arizona jail for the murder of his wife and his father-in-law in 1989. Woods was injected with a mixed cocktail of midazolam and hydromorphone due to the shortage of lethal products from Europe.

Libération says the refusal of European laboratories to allow the use of lethal chemical cocktails for executions in the United States is fuelling the debate there about capital punishment, especially after three very cruel executions over the past six months. Libé has a profile of Maya Foa, a leading British abolitionist whose tireless campaign has forced several European laboratories to stop selling their products to American executioners.

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