The justice minister will decide his fate on Wednesday. After an unprecedented trial, the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) will render its decision concerning Éric Dupond-Moretti, who is undoubtedly playing his part in the government.
The Minister of Justice, who remained in office during his 10-day trial but who did not miss a hearing, will be present at the Palais de Justice in Paris to hear the decision at 15:00 p.m. Before that, he was supposed to go to the Council of Ministers, which will not be held in the end because of the funeral of former Interior Minister Gérard Collomb.
The CJR's decision has already been made, but it is kept secret: the judges met in the wake of the trial, on 16 November, to deliberate. Before reading it in open court, the court's three professional magistrates and twelve parliamentarians from all sides of the court are due to meet one last time in the morning to validate its drafting.
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The prosecution asked for a one-year suspended prison sentence, saying it was "convinced" that Éric Dupond-Moretti had indeed been guilty of illegal acquisition of interests by opening, as minister, administrative investigations against four magistrates whom he had criticized when he was a lawyer – triggering an unprecedented complaint from the magistrates' unions.
The first time a sitting Minister of Justice has been tried
The minister is "not guilty of anything", his defence had replied by pleading for acquittal. But a conviction, even "the lowest", even "the most ridiculous", would "be enough" to bring about his "resignation", his lawyers argued. As this decisive deadline approaches for his political future, Éric Dupond-Moretti is "serene", satisfied to have "been able to explain himself", assures his entourage. "For the first time" since the beginning of his legal troubles a few months after his surprise appointment in the summer of 2020, "he defended himself, and was defended".
After this unprecedented trial – it is the first time that a sitting Minister of Justice has been tried – Éric Dupond-Moretti donned the minister's costume as if nothing had happened, holding a series of meetings and trips. And as the decision approaches, his office is preparing its agenda for the weekend... Even if it means having to cancel everything if the minister is found guilty.
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The Élysée has not let anything leak about its intentions in the event of the conviction of the minister, who remains in office despite the indictment and the referral for trial. "We have a life like any other and we are litigants like any other and therefore we have the right to the presumption of innocence like the others," government spokesman Olivier Véran told franceinfo on Tuesday, referring to Dupond-Moretti but also to Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt, who is currently on trial for favoritism.
"Sorry, I'm a little bubbly"
"That's not why the French don't trust politicians," Véran said. Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne had ruled out in October the possibility of Éric Dupond-Moretti remaining in the government in the event of a conviction, citing a "clear rule" already "applied", in reference to Minister Alain Griset who resigned in 2021 after his conviction.
On Tuesday afternoon, for his last session of questions to the government at the National Assembly before the CJR's decision, Eric Dupond-Moretti did not choose to be discreet. In response to a question from a National Rally deputy, he launched into a violent charge against the "indecent demagogy" of the party, which he called on to "drive out of its ranks" the "identitarians, Nazis, racists and anti-Semites".
Furious, the RN deputies left the hemicycle and Marine Le Pen announced "a complaint" against the minister. During his trial, Eric Dupond-Moretti had shown himself to be equal to himself, not letting anything pass and subjecting the prosecution witnesses to a background of grumblings, exasperated sighs and indignant exclamations. "Excuse me, I'm a bit ebullient," the former tenor apologized to the court.
In front of the CJR, he never stopped swearing that he had left his old differences with the magistrates "far behind", with only one goal, "to succeed in his ministry". The rest, he said, "I don't care."
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