Probe opened after bodies donated to science 'eaten by rats at Paris research centre'


IN THE PAPERS - Friday, July 10: We look at reactions in the French press after Emmanuel Macron announced that Notre-Dame Cathedral's spire, which burned down last year, will be rebuilt in its identical Gothic style. Also, French judges open an investigation into allegations that a renowned university's research facility let human corpses donated for science rot and even be eaten by rats. Plus, the French film academy has announced a raft of changes to combat accusations of sexism and discrimination. Finally, a biopic about iconic French rap group Suprême NTM begins filming next month.


We bring you a round-up of the French papers, starting with Notre-Dame Cathedral, which is making the front pages. President Emmanuel Macron has announced that the spire of the cathedral, which went up in flames last year, will be rebuilt identically. Macron is dropping the rather unpopular idea of modernising the spire. "The spire will be resuscitated," Le Parisien says on its front page. The paper's editors hail Macron's decision to honour the Gothic style of the cathedral and rebuild the monument as quickly as possible – the government has set a deadline of 2024. They say: "Notre Dame has resisted storms, revolutions, vandalism and invasions. Let's hope it can quickly rediscover its magic for eternity!" 

"Just like before", that’s how La Croix, the Catholic paper, puts it. The editors, much like Le Parisien, approve of Macron's decision to rebuild the monument in its original style. After all, La Croix says, there is a wealth of documents upon which we can rely to rebuild the edifice. 

Heading back to Le Parisien, a controversy has erupted at a Parisian university renowned for scientific research. The Université Paris Descartes's centre for body donations is the biggest European anatomy centre, receiving hundreds of bodies donated for scientific research. French magazine L'Express broke the story last year of human corpses donated for science which were left to rot and in some cases were even eaten by rats. The shocking state of degradation was captured in photos back in 2016. After a preliminary inquiry, a formal investigation began this week, Le Parisien reports. The university is accused of serious ethical failures in its management of the centre, which has since been shut down. 

We move on to the French film industry. The César academy, the equivalent of the Oscars here in France, has announced some major changes in response to accusations that it lacks diversity. The César ceremony this year ended up being chaotic with its entire board resigning over accusations of sexism, an actress boycotting the ceremony over the decision to honour director and convicted sex offender Roman Polanski and widespread calls for far-reaching reform to improve on a lack of diversity. The Academy has now responded with new reforms launched this week, such as gender parity in all its decision-making chambers, including the presidency which will be shared between a woman and a man. The academy has announced that its 4,313 members who vote for awards will be candidates to the General Assembly and can choose their representatives in September elections. The board is promising more representation and more diversity in the future.

Finally, we end on a cinema story. A new biopic will begin filming this summer, tracing the rise of pioneering French rap group Suprême NTM. Much like what Straight Outta Compton did for NWA, this biopic will look at the career of Suprême NTM, a group that defined French rap in the late 1980s and 90s and was responsible for an iconic song that was a rude insult to law enforcement at a time when clashes between the restless French suburbs and police were prominent. As this website notes, hip-hop became a way for the group's founders JoeyStarr and Kool Shen to express the rage of the French suburbs and eventually become spokespeople for an entire generation.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Take international news everywhere with you! Download the France 24 app