"It is an unfair decision", reacts Me Antonin Lévy. Guest of Europe 1, Monday evening, the lawyer of François Fillon returned on the decision of the correctional court in the case of the fictitious jobs of his wife Pénélope. The former Prime Minister was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison, two of which were closed, while his wife was sentenced to a three-year suspended prison sentence.
"It is unfair for several reasons," said the lawyer. "Its severity is not justified in the motivation which is his: we used the elements of the investigating judge by copying and pasting them in a decision, for a sentence which was, I believe, fixed in advance". In addition, Me Lévy denounces the silence regarding the statements by the prosecutor of the National Financial Prosecutor's Office (PNF). Friday, the defense had indeed requested the reopening of the proceedings, after the former head of the PNF, Éliane Houlette, claimed to have carried out the investigation under "pressure" from the general prosecutor's office. "All this is absent, not a word, not a line in this judgment," deplores the lawyer.
"This judgment contradicts itself in every way"
"It is extremely rare to see a work that has been done by the defense, to see the elements that we have been able to produce, to see the three weeks of debates, set aside in a few pages", he denounces again, evoking 42 attestations to the debate "which we consider in two pages and one paragraph to be inconclusive", and four witnesses heard during an afternoon, "which we explain to you in two paragraphs that this is not enough" .
Immediately after the decision, the defense appealed. "It was introduced beyond a shadow of a doubt, because this judgment contradicts itself in every way", explains Me Antonin Lévy, who wonders about the possibility that this conviction decision was "written in advanced".
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"A severe decision which makes him more combative"
As for the reaction of François Fillon, his lawyer assures him: "It is a severe decision which makes him even more combative". Referring to a decision taken without the judges taking into account the defense and the explanations that his client was able to provide, Me Lévy considers that "we simply focused, with a form of bad faith, on the fact that his defense was not convincing. " However, he adds, "it seems negligible when it is swept into two pages, but 42 attestations of people who attest to the work of Pénélope Fillon, it is more than the totality of the witnesses of the prosecution gathered in the part of the investigation ".
If the lawyer recalls having appealed the decision, he says that the appeal trial will be even more interesting than the first in first instance, in view of the commissions of inquiry which are under way, and "the beginning of major revelations that we are going to have in this case ".
The appeal trial does not frighten the defense, on the contrary. "There are a lot of things that can be done," says the lawyer. "We will be able to deepen the question of the PNF's interference in the file, we will be able to look at the pressures that the prosecutor has suffered, and also question the way in which the magistrates were appointed and whose investigation was conducted ".
"We tried to punish the politician that he is no longer"
The criminal court, which did not issue a warrant on Monday, attached the conviction of François Fillon to a fine of 375,000 euros and an ineligibility sentence of ten years. A sentence which, according to Me Antonin Lévy, makes no sense, his client having withdrawn from political life. "What we tried to punish is not the man he is, it is the politician that he is no longer," he said. "There is a kind of discrepancy between the sanction that one wants to impose, and the man that one wants to punish".
Also, he concludes, "it is essential that politicians be able to answer for acts that they may have committed before courts, they are not above the law, but they are not however below" . Indeed, Me Antonin Lévy believes that the treatment of "disadvantage" enjoyed by political staff before the criminal courts "must change." The politician is not a litigant like the others today, and the courts of exceptions must not exist in France ".