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16 Jul, 2021 14:29

French justice minister under formal investigation over allegations he used his position to settle old scores

French justice minister under formal investigation over allegations he used his position to settle old scores

France’s justice minister has been formally placed under investigation following claims he abused his position in the government to settle scores with magistrates with whom he had trouble when he was a practicing lawyer.

On Friday, lawyers for Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti told reporters that their client is the subject of a formal investigation. Olivier Cousi, one of his legal team, told BFM TV that Dupond-Moretti saw no reason to resign from his ministerial position despite the official inquiry. 

Dupond-Moretti was present in court and was reportedly questioned for hours by the Cour de Justice de La République – a special court that deals with complaints against serving ministers – on Friday. It is the first time that a so-called ‘Garde des Sceaux’ (Keeper of the Seals) has been questioned by the special court, according to French media. 

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In France, being put under formal investigation suggests there is “serious or consistent evidence” involving the suspect, but it is not the same as being charged with particular offenses.

The court launched an investigation in January, following complaints filed by an anti-corruption group and three legal unions against Dupond-Moretti.

The minister has been accused of a conflict of interest and of using his political position to settle old scores with lawyers and judges – claims he disputes. Instead, he says, the complaints are an attempt to foil his efforts to reform the French justice system.

Dupond-Moretti’s lawyers said they intend to challenge the decision to put the minister under investigation.

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