Police search French ministry of justice in probe against minister

French police were searching the ministry of justice on Thursday as part of a conflict of interest probe against the justice minister, a former star defence lawyer, a judicial source said.

Police search French ministry of justice in probe against minister
Justice minister Eric Dupond-Morett is the subject of a conflict of interest investigation. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP

Eric Dupond-Moretti was named justice minister last summer in a controversial move by President Emmanuel Macron that annoyed some magistrates and prosecutors, who felt the appointment of the flamboyant lawyer to be deeply inappropriate.

The Law Court of the Republic (CJR), the only French authority with the power to try ministers for alleged abuses carried out while in office, opened a probe in January against Dupond-Moretti into conflicts of interest owing to his past job.

The inquiry was opened following complaints filed by three magistrate unions and the Anticor anti-corruption association.

The French weekly Canard Enchaine reported this week that Dupond-Moretti will himself soon be summoned by CJR magistrates to be questioned.

In an unusual move, Prime Minister Jean Castex was himself questioned by the CJR as a witness in the case on June 7th.

At the heart of the accusations is the 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 that case to one year in jail, though it is unlikely they will serve any time behind bars.

As a defence lawyer, Dupond-Moretti – an intimidating figure who has likened the courtroom to a theatre – earned the nickname of the “Acquittator”, a reference to the Terminator films, for his track record in getting clients acquitted.

Dupond-Moretti swore as recently as 2018 that he would never be justice minister, saying no one would have the “utterly absurd” idea – “and frankly I would never accept such a thing”.

In 2019, he even starred in his own one-man theatre show called “Eric Dupond-Moretti to the Bar”.

When he was named justice minister in a summer 2020 reshuffle, the head of the USM magistrates union, Celine Parisot, said that appointing a person “who is so divisive and who has such scorn for the judiciary” was tantamount to “a declaration of war”.

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France charges teen over ‘imminent terror attack’ plot

French authorities have charged an 18-year-old man on suspicion of planning an imminent terror attack with a knife in the name of Islamic State (IS) jihadists, a judicial source said on Wednesday.

France charges teen over 'imminent terror attack' plot

Initial investigations indicated that he planned to carry out a terror attack “in the name of IS, to which he had pledged allegiance,” said the source, who asked not to be named, adding that the man had been detained in the Drome region of southeast France and charged in Paris.

The source added that the man had been detained in the Drome region of southeast France and charged in Paris.

The man, from a Muslim family, had adopted extremist views and was considered a threat, sparking France’s anti-terror prosecutors office (PNAT) to open an investigation on May 19, a source close to the case said.

Police arrested him on Friday and a video of him swearing allegiance to IS was found in his possession.

The source did not say whom he was planning to target in the attack or in which location.

France saw a wave of jihadist attacks from 2015 that left hundreds dead and pushed the country to its highest level of security alert.

There has been no repeat of a mass atrocity in the last years, but there have been several deadly attacks carried out by lone individuals

More to follow