French police spent 15 hours raiding the Justice Department as part of an investigation into a conflict of interest against Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti.
20 gendarmes as well as magistrates from the Tribunal de la République (CJR) – the only French authority empowered to judge ministers for alleged abuses committed during the exercise of their functions – carried out the search on Thursday in the presence of the Minister of Justice .
The search, a very rare event in France, ended at midnight.
Dupond-Moretti’s lawyer Christophe Ingrain told reporters on Thursday evening that the operation was taking time as investigators insisted on opening old safes in the office of the Minister of Justice. No one had the keys.
“Drills and grinders must have been used … to find out that they did not contain anything,” said the minister’s adviser, who also complained of “the disproportionate use of force”.
Eric Dupond-Moretti was appointed Minister of Justice last summer with the mission of reforming justice.
The famous former lawyer was already known and his appointment was considered inappropriate by some magistrates and prosecutors.
His drive to introduce videotaped court proceedings and rewrite the Judicial Training Book has further angered many in the legal profession.
Conflict of interest
In January, the CJR opened an investigation against the Minister of Justice for conflicts of interest arising from his former position as a defense lawyer.
The investigation was opened following complaints filed by three magistrates’ unions and the anti-corruption group Anticor.
The French weekly Canard Enchainé reported this week that Dupond-Moretti himself will soon be summoned by the magistrates of the CJR for questioning.
Unusually, Prime Minister Jean Castex was himself questioned by the CJR as a witness in the case on June 7.
The charges relate to an administrative investigation ordered by Dupond-Moretti in September against three magistrates of the powerful National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF).
They took part in an investigation aimed at identifying the mole who allegedly informed former President Nicolas Sarkozy and his lawyer Thierry Herzog that they were being wiretapped in a corruption case.
Both have since been sentenced in the case to one year in prison, although they are unlikely to serve any time behind bars.
As a defense attorney, Dupond-Moretti – an intimidating figure who compared the courtroom to a theater – earned the nickname “The Acquittor”, a reference to the Terminator films, for his experience in the ‘acquittal of clients.
Dupond-Moretti swore as recently as 2018 that he would never be Minister of Justice, claiming that no one would have the idea “totally absurd” – “and frankly, I would never agree to such a thing” .
In 2019, he even starred in his own solo theater show titled “Eric Dupond-Moretti at the Bar”.
When he was appointed Minister of Justice in a reshuffle in the summer of 2020, the president of the USM magistrates’ union, Céline Parisot, declared that appointing a person “who divides so much and who has such a contempt for justice “amounted to” a declaration of war “. ”.