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French justice minister acquitted in conflict of interest case

AFP
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French justice minister acquitted in conflict of interest case
French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti. (Photo by Nicolas TUCAT / AFP)

A French court on Wednesday acquitted France's justice minister in a conflict of interest trial that has been an embarrassment for President Emmanuel Macron's government.

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Eric Dupond-Moretti, a pugnacious former star defence lawyer, had in 2021 been charged with misusing his position to settle scores with opponents from his legal career.

He stood trial before the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), which judges incumbent or former ministers for alleged offences committed while in office.

He is the first sitting French justice minister to have stood trial. Dupond-Moretti's case related to administrative inquiries on the minister's watch into three judges.

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The three judges had ordered police in 2014 to examine the phone records of dozens of lawyers and magistrates, including Dupond-Moretti, as part of an investigation into former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

The judiciary had accused the minister, who also ordered a fourth judge to be investigated in an unrelated case, of a witch hunt, while he retorted that his accusers were "biased".

The prosecutor in the case had recommended a one-year suspended prison sentence for Dupond-Moretti.

"This is clearly very satisfying," one of his lawyers, Jacqueline Laffont, told reporters after the verdict.

"This is what we hoped for, and what the law demanded," she said.

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