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Process: Conflict of interest among France’s justice minister?

Process: Conflict of interest among France’s justice minister?

France’s Justice Minister Dupond-Moretti is accused of having used his office to settle old disputes. The minister sees himself as not at fault. A verdict is now to be made in the proceedings.

France’s Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti is facing a potentially momentous verdict in the trial over an alleged conflict of interest. Because when the Court of Justice of the Republic decides on the guilty or acquittal in the afternoon, the political future of the minister will also be directly at stake. If convicted, he would probably have to say goodbye to the cabinet.

The question in the proceedings is whether Dupond-Moretti took advantage of his position as Minister of Justice to settle disputes from his time as a lawyer. Specifically, it concerns administrative proceedings against a judge and three high-ranking officials in the judicial system, which Dupond-Moretti is said to have ordered. The prosecution accuses him of a conflict of interest that jeopardized his impartiality as a minister. She is asking for a year of probation. The minister faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of 500,000 euros.

Dupond-Moretti vehemently denies the allegations made by unions of judges and prosecutors and insists on an acquittal. Observers believe that the minister is acting as if nothing is happening. He ignored questions about the possible consequences he wanted to draw from the verdict.

The procedure is considered a novelty. For the first time, a French minister who is still in his post has to answer before the Court of Justice of the Republic. The body is exclusively responsible for misconduct by ministers in the exercise of their office.

It’s about Dupond-Moretti’s political future

For Dupond-Moretti, the trial is primarily about his political future. Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne had made it clear that the rule applied: Anyone convicted must leave the government. Almost two years ago, the French minister for small and medium-sized enterprises, Alain Griset, was convicted – and then resigned.

But what exactly happens after the verdict is unclear. The blustering Dupond-Moretti is probably extremely reluctant to leave and could still go to the Court of Cassation anyway. It is rumored that if he receives a light sentence, he will do everything he can to stay in office. But outrage – especially from the judiciary – would be inevitable.

The French newspaper “Le Figaro” estimates that the departure of his justice minister would be a shame for French President Emmanuel Macron. The liberal head of state has so far stuck firmly to the minister, who is considered one of his closest confidants in the cabinet and has certainly delivered in office. Macron abandoned the previously applicable regulations in favor of Dupond-Moretti. He was allowed to stay during a government reshuffle even though an investigation was already underway against him. Even when an investigation was initiated, he did not leave office. An interim minister was not even appointed for the duration of the trial.

Source: Stern

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