Accused of endangering the fundamental rights of litigants, the keeper of the seals, Eric Dupond-Moretti, defended his controversial order on Sunday, November 22. This offers the possibility of having an accused appear by videoconference at the end of the assize trial, with or without his consent, including when his state of health is not compatible with his hearing. The minister believes that there is no other solution for justice to work in the midst of the Covid-19 epidemic.
The text signed Wednesday by the former criminal lawyer exceptionally authorizes, during the health crisis, that the final part of a criminal trial – pleadings and requisitions – can take place in the physical absence of the accused.
This possibility, left to the appreciation of the presidents of the assize courts, could allow the trial of the January 2015 attacks, suspended since November 2 due to the contamination of several accused by SARS-CoV-2, to resume on Monday. . Since then, the state of health of one of them, Ali Riza Polat, has been deemed incompatible with his presence at the hearing. In a message addressed to all the parties, the president of the court, Régis de Jorna, announced in the middle of the week that he would use this order to have Ali Riza Polat appear by videoconference, during the envisaged resumption of the trial, Monday 23 November. The defendants’ lawyers see it as a “Unfair violation” rights of defense.
“Some [de ces avocats], I called them, I said to them “But you are very nice, but what is there for solution? What is there as a measure that the minister could have taken? ” “, rebelled Eric Dupond-Moretti on BFM-TV. “We wait for justice to work, we have to know what we want. The same lawyers who said [ce n’est] not possible that [la justice] stop today are suing me ”, continued the Minister of Justice.
Videoconference in Assize Court: according to Éric Dupond-Moretti (@E_DupondM), “this order is not binding … https://t.co/kZHgugth2Z
“This order is not binding”
In a column published on Saturday in The world, 19 defense lawyers in the 2015 bombings trial believe that “This ordinance, cut to the millimeter to unblock the river trial in which we are involved, is an iniquitous and flagrant violation of the fundamental rights of litigants and of the rights of the defense”. “Confiscating from the accused the right to be present at his hearing is part of an unacceptable dehumanization of justice”, they write.
In a separate forum, 47 of their colleagues defending the civil parties also denounced a “Worrying attack on the functioning of justice, which nobody can be satisfied”.
On Tuesday, the Council of State will urgently examine an appeal against this order, which has also been criticized by several unions of magistrates.
For the Keeper of the Seals, the part that could take place by videoconference is “A phase where the accused is no longer likely to speak”. “This order is not binding”, he added, adding that the case can also be referred. In such a case, “My ministry will be ready for a new trial, to which all the victims will return, with the suffering that this can generate, we must start over from the beginning, without doubt with the accused who will be free”, he warned.