Chronic. Three years’ imprisonment, one of which was firm, for corruption and influence peddling: unprecedented, the judgment in the “wiretapping affair” had the effect of an explosion. Nicolas Sarkozy – who appealed – thus becomes the first ex-president to be given a prison sentence.
In recent years, the – severe – court decisions involving top political leaders have multiplied. In 2019, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who had opposed a search of the premises of his movement, was sentenced to three months in prison. In 2020, the sentence to five years in prison, including two closed, of the former Prime Minister François Fillon, in the case of the fictitious jobs of his wife Penelope, had also marked the spirits.
Each time, those responsible, in “cases” of a very different nature, denounced a politicization of justice. Same rhetoric in the wake of the judgment implicating Mr. Sarkozy: the head of the Republicans party, Christian Jacob, immediately criticized the “Severity” of the sentence, judged “Disproportionate” and revealing of “The relentlessness of an already highly contested institution”. Criticism swept aside by the Union Syndicale des Magistrates which repeats that “Justice passes for everyone”.
A new episode in the war of nerves which has always opposed politicians and judges. The French Revolution, which consecrated the defeat of the Parliaments of the Ancien Régime (which administered justice in the name of the king), sealed that of the judges, placed under supervision for two centuries. This period, in a society that goes to court, is over. We are even witnessing, according to constitutional experts and historians, an inversion of the balance of power between the two powers. “The more political power is weakened, the more that of judges is strengthened”, underlines law professor Bertrand Mathieu, author of Justice and politics: the tear? (LGDJ, 2015), according to which “Judges undoubtedly have more power today than in the past.”
” Vicious circle “
In 1991, Judge Thierry Jean-Pierre was dismissed by the prosecutor’s office in the Urba affair the day after a search at the headquarters of this design office suspected of supplying socialist funds. A “Wild equipped”, had denounced the Keeper of the Seals, Henri Nallet. Twenty-five years later, on June 21, 2017, François Bayrou was forced to leave the chancellery after the opening of a preliminary investigation targeting his party.
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