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France: New Year Car Fires – Old Troubles Recalled

  • January 5th, 2009
  • Posted by 7thmin

carfire-paris2-taipeitimes.jpgAuthorities in France estimated over 1100 cars were torched during New Year’s Eve disturbances this time, continuing a habit picked up from the rioting in the poor suburbs around Paris in 2005.

And … such information concerning fires may be in some doubt from now on, (at least South of the Equator); an appointment to the French fire service has revived memories of an episode of extreme duplicity in that country’s relations abroad.

Dominique Prieur, one of the two French espionage agents convicted over the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, has reportedly been given a top new government post – with the fire brigades.

rainbow-warrior1.jpgShe and a colleague, Alain Mafart, were caught by New Zealand authorities carrying false passports, after they took part in the bomb attack on the Greenpeace ship in Auckland harbour, in 1985.

rainbow-warrior2.jpgA man on the ship called Fernando Pereira was killed.

After tortuous negotiations with recalcitrant partners in Paris, the New Zealanders obtained reparations and handed over the two officers, to serve out ten-year terms for manslaughter on a French Pacific island.

The Rainbow Warrior was provisioning at Auckland during a voyage to confront French ships engaged in nuclear testing in the atmosphere, at Mururoa Atoll.

New Zealand news media have taken an understandable interest in this week’s development; the NZ Herald obtaining the following despatch, here in part, from Catherine Field in Paris.

“Dominique Prieur, one of two spies arrested and jailed in New Zealand for their part in bombing the Rainbow Warrior, has started a new life – with the fire brigade.

“The satirical French weekly Le Canard Enchaine, in a report confirmed by the Paris Fire Brigade (BSPP), said Prieur had been hired as the service’s director of human resources, working for two days a week on a one-year contract.

“She will be working under her maiden name, Dominique Maire.

“Her husband, Joel Prieur, is commander of the BSPP ‘and is probably not unfamiliar with the hiring’, Le Canard noted acidly, in a piece headlined ‘Pompiers en famille’ (Firefighters in the family).”

Career and family life have come together before, for Ms Prieur.

After a few years in Pacific detention, she and Alain Mafart were sent home to France, he on medical grounds, she after delivering a baby, having been joined by her husband on the island.

carfire-paris-flickr.jpgAs for the car fires which kept some 30000 police and 50000 firefighters busy over the New year’s period; the Interior Ministry in Paris says things have not settled down in the troubled suburbs: the level of incendiary vandalism was up by 30% on last year.


Catherine Field, Rainbow Warrior bomber’s hot new job, New Zealand Herald, Auckland, 2.1.08., (5.1.09).

IHT, Paris, “New Year’s Eve car burnings rise sharply in France”, 1.1.09., (5.1.09).

Robert Farrago, The Truth About Cars, “French New Year’s Eve ‘revelers’ torch 1 k cars”, 1.1.09., (5.1.09).

Pictures: Paris car fires – flickr; Rainbow Warrior – Greenpeace,