In an unprecedented situation, the French Minister of Justice, Éric Dupond-Moretti was indicted on July 16 by the magistrates of the Court of Justice of the Republic, in charge of investigating possible conflicts of interest with his previous activities as a lawyer.
The indictment is unprecedented for a practicing French justice minister. After an interrogation of almost six hours in the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti was charged this Friday, July 16, as part of an investigation into possible conflicts of interest with his previous activities as a lawyer. .
“As expected, he was charged,” one of the minister’s three lawyers, Me Christophe Ingrain, told reporters after the justice minister left the CJR without making a statement.
Eric Dupond-Moretti was charged with illegal taking of interests, without judicial control, a judicial source confirmed to AFP.
Neither the Attorney General of the Court of Cassation, François Molins, who represents the Prosecutor’s Office in this process, nor any other representative of the Public Ministry attended the interrogation, the same source said.
The minister was summoned after a very unusual search at the Chancellery on July 1, carried out for fifteen hours by a score of gendarmes from the Paris search section, with magistrates from the CJR, the only jurisdiction empowered to prosecute and judge ministers for offenses committed within the framework of their duties.
“Extremely serene”, according to his close circle, the minister was “combative” and “determined to explain himself”, accompanied by his three lawyers.
In this case, it is suspected that Éric Dupond-Moretti took advantage of his role as ‘Guardian of the Seals’ to settle his accounts with magistrates with whom he had altercations when he was a lawyer, which the minister denies.
The CJR opened an inquiry in January for a “conflict of interest”, after having received complaints from three magistrates’ unions and the Anticor association denouncing situations of conflict of interest in two reports.
The first report is related to the administrative investigation ordered in September by the ‘Keeper of the Seals’ against three magistrates of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF, for its French acronym) who exhaustively examined his detailed call histories while he was still a star. of the courts.
The PNF was then looking to find a “mole” who could have informed former president Nicolas Sarkozy and his adviser Thierry Herzog -a friend of Éric Dupond-Moretti- that they were being monitored with hidden microphones in the corruption case called ‘Bismuth’, and that It cost the former head of state a historic conviction in March.
Vilifying the “hidden methods” of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, Éric Dupond-Moretti filed a complaint, before withdrawing it on the night of his appointment as ‘Keeper of the Stamps’ on July 6, 2020.
In the second report, the ‘Keeper of the Stamps’ is accused of having expedited administrative proceedings against a former examining magistrate attached to Monaco, Édouard Levrault, who had investigated one of his former clients, and of whom he had criticized the methods of “ cowboy ”after that magistrate took the floor in a report.
On the other hand, the magistrates’ unions pointed out to the CJR investigation commission three other interventions by the Guardian of the Seals that they consider problematic; one of which was carried out in the autumn before detainees from Corsica, although the minister was the lawyer of one of them, Yvan Colonna.
But the CJR petition commission issued an unfavorable opinion, refusing to order a new investigation for these events, according to a judicial source.
Éric Dupond-Moretti has always defended himself against any conflict of interest, arguing that he has done nothing more than “follow the recommendations” of his administration.
His defense requested, in vain, a report of the interrogation, estimating that the attorney general close to the Court of Cassation, François Molins, -who opened the investigation at the CJR- was both judge and party. According to the minister’s lawyers, François Molins recommended the opening of an administrative investigation and should then be considered as a witness in this case.
The potential conflicts of interest of the new ‘Keeper of the Stamps’, pointed out since his arrival at the Chancellery by the magistrates’ unions, finally led in October to prevent him from continuing with his old businesses, now controlled by Matignon.
Éric Dupond-Moretti accuses those same unions of “political maneuvering” to “obtain a new Keeper of the Seals.” “We do not do politics. At no time, in any way, have we requested the resignation of the minister, “replied Céline Parisot, president of the Union of Magistrates (USM), the majority union in the judiciary.
Could an investigation compromise the future of Éric Dupond-Moretti at the head of that sovereign ministry?
“He has the support of Emmanuel Macron and Jean Castex. In fact, it was the personal election of the President of the Republic, which cannot be refuted ”, comments a parliamentarian from La República En Marcha (LREM).
On the contrary, a minister judges her situation “complicated, especially when one is ‘Keeper of the Seals'”.
The President of the Republic declared himself “guarantor of the independence of justice” on Thursday, while he was in the Tour de France.
“I think that the ‘Guardian of the Seals’ has the same rights as all defendants, that is, the presumption of innocence of being able to defend the rights that are theirs, and I think that it is not healthy to have comments from magistrates before the decisions and to have press releases before the decisions of the Justice because the work of the Justice must be done in the correct order and with serenity ”, declared Emmanuel Macron, who had promised to suppress the CJR, without completing the necessary constitutional review.
This article was adapted from its original in French