President LREM of the National Assembly, Richard Ferrand, was indicted on the night of Wednesday to Thursday in Lille for "illegal taking of interests" in the Mutuelles de Bretagne case.
The fourth character of the state immediately announced, in a statement sent to AFP, to be "determined to continue (his) mission" at the head of the Assembly.
This blow for the majority comes when, chance of the calendar, two other heavyweights, François Bayrou and Marielle de Sarnez, were heard the same day by the judicial police in the context of the case of the allegedly fictitious jobs of the assistants d European MoDem.
At the end of an "examination of first appearance" of nearly 15 hours in the district court of Lille, where the case was disoriented a year ago, "the three investigating judges seized of the case have decided to indict Richard Ferrand for illegal taking of interests ", said the night in the AFP parquet Lille.
Mr. Ferrand has in the wake taken "act of this procedural measure that will allow him to be able to defend himself in this file" and ensured "remain serene on the outcome of the procedure, with regard to the classification without continuation of the whole the complaints of the first complaint "in October 2017," all the more since no new element has been added to this file in which there is neither prejudice nor victim ".
Expected for months, the free hearing of the Speaker of the National Assembly - that parliamentary immunity does not prevent - began in the middle of the morning to end around 00:30.
The affair of Mutuelles de Bretagne had led this faithful of the first hour of Emmanuel Macron to leave the government in June 2017. Just appointed Minister of Cohesion of the territories, he had been pinned by The Chained Duck who had revealed that in 2011 the Mutuelles de Bretagne, which he then ran, had decided to rent commercial premises belonging to his partner. Mr Ferrand disputes any irregularity.
The Brest public prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation in June 2017, dismissed in October. He had invoked the prescription of a possible offense of unlawful taking of interest and found that the breaches of breach of trust and fraud were "not constituted".
The anti-corruption association Anticor then filed a second complaint with civil party.
After having chaired the group of LREM deputies, Richard Ferrand took over from François de Rugy as President of the Assembly in September 2018.
As soon as he was elected to the perch, he had already warned half-heartedly that he would not resign in case of indictment.
- "Always presumed innocent" -
"Parliament has its independence, so parliamentarians do not have to be in the hands of the judiciary," he said, noting that a "number of MPs indicted" continued to "exercise their mandate ".
Asked Wednesday noon at the end of the Council of Ministers on the hearing then in progress, the government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye refused any "comment before knowing the subject of this summons".
"This appointment should have taken place a year ago but Mr. Ferrand had managed to gain some time by disorienting his record in Lille." It now wants him to explain the facts that are alleged and which are not prescribed, "said for its part to AFP the president of Anticor, Jean-Christophe Picard.
Since the announcement of the hearing of Mr. Ferrand, several members of the majority have supported him and tried in advance to minimize the scope of a possible indictment.
Thus, Bruno Bonnell (LREM) declared "not to doubt his honesty" and, according to him, "the truth will come out serenely". "Of course, he can stay at his post," he said.
An indictment would have "no impact", had added to the AFP Alain Tourret (LREM), a lawyer by profession.
The indictment of a president of the National Assembly during his perch is unpublished. Laurent Fabius was already indicted in the case of tainted blood when he became president of the Assembly in 1997.
Richard Ferrand "is presumed innocent" and "even if he would be" indicted, "he would always be presumed innocent," reacted for his part Sebastien Chenu, spokesman for the National Rally on BFMTV.
bur-reb-jpa-erd / am
© 2019 AFP