Accusations of patronage: the town hall of Bobigny strikes back

Christian Bartholmé, 56, has not read yet « The Mayor and the Barbarians ”, published this Wednesday by Albin Michel editions. Head of the municipal list, the 1st deputy mayor (UDI) of Bobigny only read the “good sheets” of this survey published last Thursday in Le Point. But that was enough to provoke his anger, just like that of Jean-Christophe Lagarde, deputy (UDI) and boss of the centrist party.

In this book, Eve Szeftel, journalist for AFP, plunged behind the scenes of the conquest of the town hall of Bobigny in 2014, delighted to the Communists by the UDI. The story of this war, some elements of which have already been told by “Le Parisien”, gives pride of place to negotiations with the various communities of the city to ensure their support. And sheds light on the reasons which pushed the brand new majority to entrust the familiar of the “barbarian gang” with positions of responsibility. Elements that Christian Bartholmé completely refutes.

No clientelist system, but “the work of a committed citizen” …

“The Mayor and the Barbarians” reveals a “clientelist system” set up by Jean-Christophe Lagarde, deputy and boss of the UDI and orchestrated by Christian Bartholmé, a long-time friend of the deputy, who also works at the town hall of Drancy, the city that Lagarde ran before his wife took over. Bartholmé, who this time is a candidate as head of the list, Stéphane de Paoli having thrown in the towel, protests against what he describes as a “bad novel”.

“To say that I put the city in a regulated cup, that means that we consider that three guys are enough to buy and corrupt the 2200 additional voters that we have won,” he laments. “I participated in bringing together people opposed to the communist system. I worked as a committed citizen to bring together people who had shown that they had a commitment in the past. ”

He also denies having flattered the communities for electoral purposes. “We brought the residents together. How is respecting people’s personal convictions communitarianism in a city where the population of foreign origin is in the majority? Either we stay on our own, or we cross the street. I cross the street. “

The Raven and the Barbarian Gang

The book also points to the role in the town hall of Lynda Benakouche, the companion of one of the members of the “gang of barbarians”, made infamous for the murder of Ilan Halimi. “Until the release of the anonymous leaflet (Editor’s note: released in June 2014 and which revealed the information), I did not know. To say that we are the municipality of the Gang of Barbarians is odious, ”says Christian Bartholmé. “I knew her because she had been on the LIBR list (Editor’s note: an independent list put together in 2008 by young people from the neighborhoods). She spent most of her energy with the children in her neighborhood. In 2014, she became responsible for the social policies of the new municipality led by Stéphane de Paoli.

The crow will also unearth a former conviction of Lynda Benakouche for violence. The 1 st deputy denies having knowledge of it. “How am I supposed to know this condemnation?” At each renewal of the contract, it is the bulletin n ° 2 of the criminal record which is sent to us. It was empty. We are talking about a judicial past that we do not know and that we do not have to know. The law prohibits access to bulletin n ° 1. Can we dismiss someone for crimes allegedly committed by their spouse? Do you want her fired for moral reasons? Legally this is not possible. “

A sensitive … and tense electoral context

“It doesn’t shock anyone that this book comes out one month before the elections! The witnesses that the journalist is talking about are all linked to Poing Commun of Fouad Ben Ahmed, PS secretary of the Bobigny section, an association that was created for the sole purpose of obtaining my resignation. This whole thing is to stop us from campaigning. It is built on sand. “

The climate of violence that parasitizes the election has also intensified since the publication of the book. Fouad Ben Ahmed, whose local campaign was torched recently, indicates in Le Point that he is the victim of intimidation. Sabrina Saïdi, the former assistant who revealed in June 2014 the links between Lynda Benakouche and the Barbarian gang, was assaulted. His cell phone, which contained confidential information, was stolen from him a week ago. Christian Bartholmé himself is no exception to these abuses. On Tuesday, the tires of his vehicle were punctured with a stapler.

Eve Szeftel: “I was told I could end up like Ilan Halimi”

With The Mayor and the Barbarians, Eve Szeftel, journalist for AFP, makes the autopsy of the conquest of power by the UDI. She tells the behind the scenes of her investigation.

What form does the patronage that you denounce in “Le Maire et Les Barbares” take?

UDI deputy Jean-Christophe Lagarde has set up a clientelist system of which he is the keystone. In Bobigny, he concluded somewhat murky alliances, including with the Islamists. The elected officials themselves are not exemplary: the 1st deputy, Christian Bartholmé who also works in his cabinet in Drancy was sentenced by the courts to a citizenship course for having exercised moral violence in July 2014 on Sabrina Saïdi, deputy to childhood.

What is this pact you’re talking about?

It is a pact between an elected representative of the local right and young people from the cities. It allowed the former to strengthen its electoral base and the latter to gain power. This network made up of associative and community leaders was tasked with turning the city around on behalf of the UDI. It is also the story of a pact with relatives of the Barbarian gang, this criminal gang that assassinated Ilan Halimi in February 2006.

How could this be possible?

Lynda Benakouche, companion of Jean-Christophe Soumbou, number 2 of the Barbarian gang, is a central piece of the puzzle. On the photo of the team’s greeting card in 2014, she is in the front row, all veiled in black, alongside Jean-Christophe Lagarde, the deputy and Stéphane de Paoli, the future mayor. It is also at the center of the campaign poster. However, it is not on the list. Its central place questioned me. Jean-Christophe Soumbou has retained an influence in Bobigny. From his prison, he continued to activate his networks in the Paul-Eluard city. This explains why his companion will be kept in the municipal workforce against all odds.

The prefecture has not reacted to his recruitment?

She rejected her recruitment three times. Each time, the municipality gave him a new contract. Lately she was “trainee” to become a civil servant. It is about a recruitment on order, according to the prefecture which again seized the administrative court.

How did your investigation go?

Very difficult. We had to break an omerta. People were scared as soon as we approached them. The springs were returned in no time; they were presented with housing or rental debt cancellation. In these poor cities, the mayors have an exorbitant power. I was warned by telling me that I could end up like Ilan Halimi, in a cellar or at the bottom of the canal. Terror linked to the Halimi affair still hangs over the city. Especially since Jean-Christophe Soumbou was released last July.

The Mayor and The Barbarians, by Eve Szeftel. Editions Albin Michel. 19 €

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