Never seen before in the Third Republic, a Minister of Justice in office,is being judged by French Justice

Ange Eric Hatangimana

Rémy RUGIRA

Never seen before in the Third Republic, a Minister of Justice in office, is being judged by the justice in France. The gentleman’s name is Eric Dupond-Moretti, Justice minister of France. From today, he will be in the dock in a court for ten days.

As of today, Monday, November 06, 2023, the Minister of Justice in office is sitting and it is for ten days in the dock of the CJR court (Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR)). This court is the only one in France empowered to prosecute and judge members of the government in office for acts committed in the exercise of their functions

The man faces up to five years in prison and a fine of 500,000 euros for illegal taking of interest, as well as a sentence of ineligibility and a ban on holding public office.

France Justice Minister, Eric Dumond-Moretti. (Crédits : SARAH MEYSSONNIER)

What is he accused of?

Eric Dupond-Moretti is accused of abusing his position as a minister to settle scores related to his past as a lawyer. Mr. Dupond-Moretti remains “serene” because he says he is “innocent” who only followed “the recommendations” of his ministry when he launched administrative investigations against four magistrates with whom it is said that he had disputes when he was a lawyer. He says he is “impatient” to “explain” himself to the CJR.

One Trial, Two Cases

The journal Ouest France.fr reports that the Anticor association (anti-corruption) and the two main magistrates’ unions filed a complaint at the end of 2020, denouncing a situation of conflict of interest of the minister in two cases. The first concerns the administrative investigation ordered against three magistrates of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF).

The latter had the telephone bills of criminal lawyers, including Éric Dupond-Moretti, combed through to flush out a possible mole who had informed Nicolas Sarkozy that he was being tapped in the so-called “Paul Bismuth” corruption case. The former tenor of the bar castigated “slapstick methods” when he discovered these investigations in June 2020. And file a complaint.

The Minister of Justice at the time, Nicole Belloubet, asked for an “operational inspection” of this PNF investigation. Éric Dupond-Moretti, who succeeded him shortly afterwards, refused to suspend the inspection despite warnings about the risk of conflict of interest. Upon receipt of the report, it decided to launch an administrative inquiry to determine whether there had been any individual misconduct on the part of the judges.

Then came the second case in which the Minister of Justice was accused of having initiated administrative proceedings against a former investigating judge seconded to Monaco, Édouard Levrault. Lawyer Dupond-Moretti had previously pointed out his “cowboy” methods. And filed a complaint against him on behalf of a client for violation of the secrecy of the investigation.

The Minister of Justice, Éric Dupond-Moretti, in his office at the Ministry of Justice on April 26, 2023. | STEPHANE GEUFROI / OUEST FRANCE

I did what any Minister of Justice would have done in my place”.Éric Dupond-Moretti

Until the justice verdict, Éric Dupond-Moretti will remain Minister of Justice of the Republic because he benefits from the presumption of innocence just like everyone else.

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