A Minister of Justice targeted by a judicial investigation: an investigation was formally opened on Wednesday against Eric Dupond-Moretti on possible conflicts of interest between his action as Keeper of the Seals and his past activities as a lawyer.
This new procedural step, announced to AFP by the general prosecutor’s office near the Court of Cassation, was expected but could weaken the position of the minister, whose surprise appointment in July had been welcomed as a “declaration of war” by the unions of magistrates.
The investigation opened for “illegal taking of interests” – carried out by the investigating commission of the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), the only court empowered to judge ministers – follows complaints lodged in December by three unions (Union Syndicale des Magistrates, Syndicat de la Magistrature, SNM FO Magistrates Unit) and the Anticor association.
“I have nothing to fear,” Mr. Dupond-Moretti reacted on Wednesday on the sidelines of a debate on juvenile justice in the Senate.
“If the objective of all this, as it is already expressed by some, is to prohibit me from working, those will be at their expense,” he warned. saying “totally serene”.
At the heart of the accusations is the administrative investigation ordered by the minister in September against three magistrates of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) who had participated in a preliminary investigation aimed at identifying the mole who allegedly informed Nicolas Sarkozy and his lawyer Thierry Herzog that they were bugged.
During six years of investigations, detailed telephone billings of several penalists, including those of the future minister, had been peeled. Still a lawyer, Mr. Dupond-Moretti had denounced “methods of barbouzes”.
Faced with the controversy, a general inspection conducted by her predecessor Place Vendôme, Nicole Belloubet, had globally cleared the PNF.
The unions also accuse Minister Dupond-Moretti of having opened another administrative investigation against magistrate Edouard Levrault. After the termination of his functions as an investigating judge in Monaco, the latter had denounced pressure in the context of his investigations.
Before becoming a minister, Mr. Dupond-Moretti had been the lawyer for a police officer indicted by this magistrate and had criticized the judge’s methods.
– No “squabble” –
Rejecting any “quarrel” with the minister, the president of the Syndicat de la magistrature (left) Katia Dubreuil welcomed the opening of the investigation into a question which touches on “fundamental democratic principles”.
“We have used all institutional channels to warn about the democratic problem. We wanted to discuss with the Prime Minister, with the president, we had the only response + we trust him. + We used the only recourse that we have. remained, “she told AFP. “This situation could not be left as it is.”
“I followed the recommendations of my administration, I will demonstrate it”, replied Wednesday Eric Dupond-Moretti in the Senate, promising a response “later undoubtedly more complete, very complete”.
His entourage for his part considered that the hypothesis of an indictment “is not at all relevant”.
“We are going to forward to the investigation committee all the elements which demonstrate that the decisions which are the subject of this investigation are part of a chain in which the magistrates of the services of the judicial direction are present at all stages” , added one of his lawyers, Christophe Ingrain.
“The minister is only following the recommendations of these magistrates”, added Me Ingrain.
As of Monday, the government had said “take note” of the imminent opening of an investigation targeting the Minister of Justice.
Chance of the calendar, Liberation and Le Canard enchaîné revealed Wednesday that another minister, Sébastien Lecornu (Overseas), was also the subject of an investigation for “illegal taking of interests”, information confirmed to the ‘AFP from a judicial source, for his past activities at the head of the Eure department and of a motorway company.
“To be the subject of an investigation does not mean to be guilty, there is the presumption of innocence which obviously applies in our country”, reacted Wednesday the spokesman of the government, Gabriel Attal.
gd-mdh-jt-leb / pa / NM