French press review 20 April 2013

The big story making the front pages is the release of the seven French hostages seized in Cameroon by the Nigerian Islamist sect, Boko Haram.


The headlines express the great relief and national communion sweeping through French hearts this morning.

“Joy and tears for the hostages”, shouts Libération. “French hostage family freed”, crows Le Figaro, while Aujourd’hui en France publishes some hints about the “secrets of their release”.

The dailies publish the very first photographs of the frail-looking and unshaved Moulin-Fournier taken shortly after their arrival at the French embassy in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde on Friday morning.

Dossier: Sharia wars - Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

They were seven in all, notes Libération. Tanguy Moulin-Fournier, the father of the four children, abducted alongside his wife and brother from a game park in northern Cameroon.

Le Figaro reports that Tanguy was overwhelmed by emotions when he spoke about the appalling conditions under which they were held during eight weeks in captivity in Nigeria. Tanguy also spoke about how his children survived the ordeal, and his joy that the terrible nightmare was now over.

Aujourd’hui en France has an account of delicate behind the scenes negotiations conducted by a close aide to Cameroon’s leader Paul Biya, which culminated in the release of the hostages.

Libération says French President François Hollande’s decision to remain quiet about the negotiations finally paid off.

Libération is also following the large-scale hunt of the so-called blood brothers in Boston, after a key suspect of the marathon bombing was killed in a shootout early Friday. 

Aujourd’hui en France
reports that he has been identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, hailing from Russia's war-torn Chechnya but living in the United States for years. 

His 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar was arrested Friday night after a prolonged manhunt around the Boston area.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is back in the news in Le Figaro this Saturday, after a French judge announced plans to investigate allegations that he accepted cash from former Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi to fund his 2007 election campaign. He received up to 50 million euros, according to the French investigative online newspaper Mediapart.

Dossier - The Bettencourt scandal

Libération reports that investigators are keen to hear from four well-informed ex-dignitaries of the Kadhafi regime. They include Kadhafi’s son Saif al-Islam, who at the start of the Libyan revolution asked Sakozy to refund the money he received from his father.

The other is Bashir Saleh, Kadhafi’s cabinet director at the time. Libé says he is currently at large and probably living in South Africa.

This is the second set of corruption-related charges facing Sarkozy, after last month’s charge that he accepted envelopes stuffed with cash from a person incapacitated by illness, France's richest woman, Lilliane Bettencourt.

Le Figaro sets the stage for Sunday’s giant demonstrations planned by opponents of the "Marriage for All" bill to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption, which is up for a final vote in parliament next week. The antis are betting on the outbreak of a right-wing version of the May 68 revolt, warns left-leaning Libération.

Aujourd’hui en France says the main opposition UMP party is surfing on the anger of the conservatives against the gay marriage bill, exposing itself to being overtaken politically by far-right extremists.

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