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Riviera and French News Thursday 13th April 2017

Murder mystery - A 45 year old man who’s been held in custody for the past two years for the murder of a pensioner is continuing to protest his innocence. The man, named only as ‘Olivier C’ had entered into a ‘viager’ rental/purchase agreement and is accused of murdering the elderly woman by poisoning her in an attempt to get control of an apartment in Le Cannet. The accused man’s lawyer says that he’s pleaded his innocence from the start and he should be freed.

Autopsy - The state prosecutor in Draguignan has ordered an autopsy to be carried out on the body of a 37 year old homeless man who died in hospital in Hyeres on Monday after having been in a coma since February. Marius Nicpon, a Polish national was found lying face down in a public park in Le Luc on the morning of the 5th of February. He was a well known figure to local residents and was a reported heavy drinker. Some witnesses have told police that his injuries were caused by a fall down stairs while others maintain that he’d been involved in a fight. The autopsy, which was carried out on Tuesday should establish the cause of death which will allow police to either proceed with a murder enquiry or to put it down to a tragic accident.

Free ride - Two taxi drivers from Golfe Juan-Valluris are offering their cars free of charge to people living in rural areas to allow them to get to polling stations to vote in the two rounds of the forthcoming French Presidential election. Both men say that it’s their ‘civic duty’ to help those who either can’t get to a polling station easily or are too frail to travel by normal means. The first round of the French Presidential election is on the 23rd of April. Marine Le Pen is expected to win the first round in the Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur region.

Water investment - The Rhone Mediterranee Corse water company is to invest 8.2 million euros to improve the quality of drinking water in the Var. The company will spend the money on improvements to reservoirs and also to be more vigilant for traces of domestic or agricultural pollutants. The Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur region has already invested 35.3 million euros on water management this year, accounting for some 454 different projects.

Local taxes - The Vence town council has voted not to increase local taxes for the next three years. Residents tax or ‘taxe d’habitation’ will be frozen at 17.4 percent as will constructed property tax at 14.61 percent and land ownership tax at 12.01 percent.

Train delays - SNCF services in the Var were affected by delays on Wednesday after a truck got stuck under a low bridge at Gonfaron. Authorities say that the truck wasn’t authorised to use the road and got stuck when the driver attempted to pass underneath the railway bridge which has a 4 meter height restriction. Train services were delayed while SNCF engineers carried out safety checks on the bridge. Road traffic is being diverted via Pignans and Flassans while repairs are being carried out.

National news

Missing migrants - French media reports say that up to 1,000 migrants are still missing following the huge fire at a refugee camp near Dunkirk on Monday night. Three local gymnasiums were opened for emergency accommodation following the fire but so far only 500 migrants have been accounted for. The rest are thought to have disappeared into the surrounding countryside where they are supposed to be sleeping rough. Most of the migrants at the camp had the intention of crossing to the UK at some point and there are reports of extra numbers gathering around Calais and the port of Dunkirk.

Closed borders ? - The far-right French Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has said that she would immediately close the French borders and suspend France’s membership of the Schengen zone if elected. Setting out her election manifesto,the Front National leader also said that she would deport foreigners on a watchlist of Islamist radicals and call a referendum on her proposals for a French-first policy on jobs and social housing. Madame Le Pen is running neck-and-neck with the centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron on 23-24 percent of the vote ahead of the first round of the election on April the 23rd. The Republican candidate Francois Fillon and the far-left candidate Jean Luc Melenchon are each polling between 17-19 percent according to the latest surveys.

Business

President Trump has said that his administration will not label China as a currency manipulator following his recent meeting with the country’s leader Xi Jinping. The development is a major shift from Mr Trump’s position before he entered the White House when he accused China of suppressing the yuan to make its exports more competitive with US goods. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday,the US President said that China had not been currency manipulators for “some time” and had been trying to prevent further weakening. He also said that he was in favour of a low interest rate economy as the dollar was getting too strong and stepped away from his pre-election pledge to replace Janet Yellen as chair of the US Federal Reserve.

A group of independent shareholders in the electric car maker Tesla has questioned the independence of the board and warned that it’s too close to the boss and co-founder Elon Musk. The shareholders,including the California State Teachers Retirement System,Hermes Equity Ownership Services and CtW Investment Group collectively manage assets amounting to 721 billion dollars and have written a letter  warning that the board of Tesla is “largely unchanged” since the firm went public. In a tweet later, Elon Musk invited the disgruntled shareholders to “buy Ford instead”.

The UK’s Office for National Statistics has reported that EU migrants make up 11 percent of manufacturing sector workers in the country. The ONS says that EU workers from outside the UK tended to work longer hours than the workforce average and were more likely to be overqualified for the jobs that they were doing. The British government is planning to change the way that migration is managed after the UK leaves the EU but hasn’t yet set out the model that it will adopt once that EU free movement rules no longer apply.

Sport

Football - It’s advantage Monaco following last night’s delayed European Champions League quarter final first leg tie as they ran out 3-2 winners at Borussia Dortmund and missed a penalty in the process too.
In last night’s other quarter final ties Real Madrid came from behind to beat 10 man Bayern Munich 2-1 and Leicester lost 1-0 at Athletico Madrid.
1st leg quarter final ties in the Europa League are being played tonight. Ajax play Schalke,Celta Vigo host Genk, Lyon play Besiktas and Anderlecht are at home to Manchester United.

Formula 1 - Fernando Alonso will miss the Monaco Grand Prix and race in the Indianapolis 500 instead. It’s understood that the move has the full backing of McLaren and engine partner Honda who are having a torrid time in Formula 1 at the moment. McLaren are yet to decide who will race in Monaco in place of Alonso but there have been suggestions that Jenson Button could come in.

Cycling - Mark Cavendish has been diagnosed with glandular fever and is uncertain when he’ll be able to return to the saddle. The Manxman hasn’t raced since competing in San Remo on the 18th of March  but said on his website that he hoped to be back “within a few weeks”. There is no effective specific treatment for treating the illness and Cavendish is being closely monitored  in his training.

Rugby Union - The England captain Dylan Hartley has said that being selected for the Lions tour of New Zealand would be an “added bonus”. Hartley led England to the 6 Nations title under Eddie Jones this season  and will finish the season with his club side Northampton. The Lions coach Warren Gatland will announce his squad for the tour on the 19th of April. Hartley says that he’s taking it as it comes and it would be a great honour to be selected.

Weather

Clear skies with moderate easterly winds. Top temperature 21 degrees Celsius. Overnight lows of 13 degrees on the coast and 9 degrees inland with partially cloudy  skies. Friday and the start of the weekend-Mainly fine with highs of 19-23 degrees.

And finally

A football belonging to an Aberdeen club has been found more than 1,000 miles away, washed up off the far north coast of Norway. The under 19s team ball went over a fence at Banks o' Dee FC's ground into the River Dee. It is thought to have been swept into the North Sea and drifted around the coast of Norway to the island of Vanna. The club was emailed to say the ball, with its name on the side, had been found. 

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