The Keeper of the Seals, Eric Dupond-Moretti, affirmed on Tuesday October 4 that his resignation was not “not on the agenda”the day after the decision of the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) to send him to trial for “illegal taking of interests”.
“The Prime Minister reaffirmed yesterday all the confidence she had in me”, recalled the minister. His indictment, since July 2021, and now his referral to this court had not “never hampered [son] work “he argued, highlighting the obtaining of an 8% increase in the budget, the development of “twenty-seven texts” of law or the holding of the Estates General of Justice.
“I am a litigant like any other”
On the sidelines of a trip to Paris, the Minister added:
“An appeal in cassation has been filed and I will assert a certain number of points of law. And if I had to be judged, I would say what I have to say, I am justiciable like any other. »
After the announcement of his dismissal, several voices demanded his departure, the League of Human Rights judging on Twitter that“Such leniency towards him sends back the deplorable image of a world of decision-makers who consider themselves above the common law”.
“President Macron must now choose: to be President of the Republic or clan leader”said Green MP Benjamin Lucas.
For Marine Le Pen, the ” presumption of innocence “ does not systematically require a minister to resign, but in the case of Eric Dupond-Moretti, his portfolio poses a problem, because “Justice must give an irreproachable appearance”. “If Emmanuel Macron is very attached to Mr. Dupond-Moretti, he only has to change his ministry”she suggested on Tuesday on BFM TV.
The president of the Anticor association, Elise Van Beneden, called for “put the pressure to get the resignation” of Eric Dupond-Moretti and another senior Macronie official, Alexis Kohler, the secretary general of the Elysée, from whom we learned on Monday the indictment for “illegal taking of interests”. Calling him ” superior “ from the minister to “draw the consequences of the discredit that attaches (…) to this referral to the CJR”the lawyer judged “incomprehensible” his retention.
The Union Syndicale des Magistrates and the Syndicat de la Magistrature, which lodged a complaint with the CJR in December 2020, after an initial complaint from Anticor, pointed out that“in the event of continued employment”the Keeper of the Seals “Would expose himself to a new conflict of interest if he had to appoint his own accuser after the departure of the Attorney General at the Court of Cassation, François Molins”who is due to retire in 2023.
The CJR, the only body empowered to try members of the government for crimes or misdemeanors committed in the exercise of their mandate, ordered a trial against Eric Dupond-Moretti on Monday, a first for a minister in office.
He is accused of having taken advantage of his position to settle accounts with magistrates whom he had opposed when he was a lawyer. His lawyers, Christophe Ingrain and Rémi Lorrain, announced that they had ” immediately “ lodged an appeal in cassation.
Matignon said on Monday that the former bar tenor had “all the confidence of the Prime Minister”Elisabeth Borne, and that “the question of his keeping him in government does not [posait] not “. Socialist MP Boris Vallaud questioned the latter on Tuesday on the independence of justice, during questions to the government in the Assembly. He recalled that in 2017 Emmanuel Macron, then presidential candidate, had affirmed that “Any minister indicted should resign” and asked the head of government what she thought of this statement.
Mme Borne answered him having “acknowledgement of the decision” made with regard to the Minister of Justice, and affirmed that she did not believe “not that it is democratically healthy for decisions of the judicial authority to be commented on here, within the confines of the legislative power, by a member of the executive”given that “the independence of the judiciary is a cardinal principle of our democracy”as ” the presumption of innocence “.
Two complaints against Mr. Dupond-Moretti
Eric Dupond-Moretti is accused of having taken advantage of his position, once at the head of the Ministry of Justice, to settle accounts with magistrates with whom he had had trouble when he was a lawyer, which he dispute. Complaints from magistrates’ unions and the anti-corruption association Anticor, denouncing two situations of conflict of interest since his arrival at the chancellery, had given rise to the opening of a judicial investigation in January 2021.
The first case concerns the administrative investigation he ordered in September 2020 against three magistrates of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF). They had had his itemized phone bills go through (“fadettes”) when Mr. Dupond-Moretti was still a star at the bar, with the aim of flushing out a possible mole who would have informed Nicolas Sarkozy that he was being tapped in the so-called “Paul Bismuth” corruption case.
A PNF deputy prosecutor, Patrice Amar, and his ex-boss, Eliane Houlette, appeared in September before the Superior Council of the Judiciary (CSM), which is due to render its decision on October 19. No sanction was required against them.. The third magistrate implicated, Ulrika Delaunay-Weiss, was cleared before any hearing before the CSM.
In the second case, the Keeper of the Seals is accused of having initiated administrative proceedings against a former investigating judge seconded to Monaco, Edouard Levrault, who had indicted one of his ex-clients. Eric Dupond-Moretti had criticized his methods of “cowboy”. The CSM decided on September 15 not to sanction Mr. Levrault, considering that“no disciplinary breach can be blamed on him”. A decision that sounded like a disavowal of the minister.
Throughout the investigation, Eric Dupond-Moretti repeated that he had only done “follow the recommendations of his administration”. An argument that did not convince the public prosecutor, who requested, in May, a trial against the minister.