"If I had known that a karting competition was organized, I would have put a very clear veto (...) I was never informed", declared the Minister of Justice to the press, during the Tuesday afternoon visit to another prison, in Fleury-Merogis (Essonne).
On July 27, an event called “Kohlanness” took place in a courtyard of the Fresnes penitentiary (Val-de-Marne). Three teams - of prisoners, guards and residents of the city - had faced each other in events, karting, mime or even tug of war over a swimming pool.
But a video of the event broadcast in particular on Youtube, Friday, and since withdrawn, caused a lively controversy, coming in particular from the far right and right, and the launch of an administrative investigation by the Ministry of Justice .
"For me, prison is punishment and reintegration," insisted Mr. Dupond-Moretti. "In these images, there is neither punishment nor reintegration", he added, insisting: "Prison, it must have a deterrent effect".
Jimmy Delliste, the director of the establishment, which had 1,918 detainees for 1,336 places on July 1, had praised on Twitter a "moment of fraternal commitment for the benefit of three associations" and thanked the organizers, in the wake of the event.
This "Koh Lanta des cités" organized in the courtyard of the prison, aimed to show "a moment of humanity between prisoners, supervisors and young people from the neighborhood", explained Monday Enzo Angelo Santo, producer of "Kohlanness", claiming to have had the approval of the administration and the ministry.
"What the ministry knew was that there was a sports competition in which there was never any question of karting", again assured the Keeper of the Seals, arguing that the organizer had signed a contract with the director of the prison.
"The minister does not know everything that is going on in detail (...), the directors have a personal initiative", insisted Eric Dupond-Moretti, specifying that the interregional director and his cabinet were not at the running.
- "The minister does not know everything" -
Many sporting or cultural events are regularly organized in prison.
While regretting that his approach is reduced "to karting", the producer stressed on Monday that "all the detainees" who participated in the show were "people able to reintegrate" and "in school".
However, one of the participants in the game, aged 31, was "sentenced to ten years' imprisonment for rape by the Val-de-Marne Assize Court in February 2021", AFP learned on Tuesday from a close source. of the file, confirming information from the Opinion.
Monday evening, the organizers had announced "to delete without delay" the video having launched the controversy, after having learned that one of the participants "had a heavy criminal record", despite conditions fixed upstream.
"The scandal is not there, but in the prison overcrowding, and in particular in Fresnes, which is one of the most dilapidated establishments", estimated for his part on BFMTV Dominique Simonnot, the general controller of the places of deprivation of freedom.
Against the background of the campaign for the professional elections in the fall, the unions have stepped up to the plate.
Ufap-Unsa Justice in Fresnes attacks the minister: "Eric Dupond-Moretti is making fun of us, he told AFP, because as soon as there is a demonstration outside or inside As far as the prison population is concerned, there is necessarily an authorization made upstream from the prison administration and therefore from the minister".
FO Justice in Fresnes believes for its part that "prison is a place of deprivation of freedoms and not a leisure center", in line with reactions from right and far right personalities.
Faced with the controversy over the networks, the minister launched: "The fachosphere expresses what it wants", me "I assume to be firm without being demago and populist" (...).