“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 his visit Tuesday afternoon 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 competed in fun events, karting, mime or even tug of war above a swimming pool.

But a video of the event broadcast in particular on Youtube, Friday, and since withdrawn, aroused a very lively controversy, coming in particular from the far right and right, then the launch of an administrative investigation by the Ministry of Justice.

According to the investigation report, published at the end of the day on Tuesday, the choice of activities was managed “in direct connection between the organizing association and the prison establishment” and “neither the management of the prison administration, nor the office of the Keeper of the Seals had no knowledge of the precise modalities of the Kohlanness activity”.

“If an authorization in principle from the Chancellery has been given with regard to this action, it is without knowing the precise details, in particular with regard to the karting event”, adds the report.

In the process, the Minister of Justice announced on Twitter the publication of a circular to set “the conditions necessary for carrying out reintegration projects in prison”, now “subject to the express validation of the management of the administration. penitentiary”.

– “Error of appreciation” –

Jimmy Delliste, the director of the establishment 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.

According to the administrative investigation report, “the first will of the director of Fresnes, who admits having made an error of assessment, was to carry out a charitable operation based on the effort and the values ​​of sport”. On July 1, the establishment had 1,918 inmates for 1,336 places.

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.

Many sporting or cultural events are regularly organized in the prisons.

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.

For her part, on BFMTV, Dominique Simonnot, the general controller of places of deprivation of liberty, denounced Monday “a somewhat strange and pathetic controversy”. For her, the real “scandal” is “in the prison overcrowding, and in particular in Fresnes, which is one of the most dilapidated establishments”.

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”.

Faced with the controversy having swelled on social networks, the minister launched: “The fachosphere expresses what it wants”, me “I assume to be firm without being demago or populist (…)”.