Press review
1 December 2023

Press review – Week of 27 November 2023

This week’s press review looks back at the criminal proceedings against Olivier Dussopt, Minister of Labor, Eric Dupond-Moretti, Minister of Justice, and Vincent Bolloré, billionaire head of the Bolloré Group, as well as at the creation of the Environmental Judicial Pole and at the draft European directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence.

 

White collar crime: The Court of Justice of the Republic releases Éric Dupond-Moretti, but points to “an objective situation of conflict of interest

Minister of Justice Éric Dupond-Moretti, who was charged before the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) for illegal interest-taking, was cleared on 29 November. Although the court, made up of twelve members of parliament and three professional judges from the Cour de cassation, found that the material element of the offence had been established, it did not find that the intentional element was characterized. The Minister of Justice who was “placed in an objective situation of conflict of interest”, owes his exoneration to his lack of “sufficient awareness that he could have been exposing himself to the commission of an illegal taking of interest by ordering the disputed administrative investigations” against magistrates with whom he had allegedly had disputes with when he was still practicing as a criminal attorney. > Read article

Olivier Dussopt faces prison sentence after three-day trial, with judgment expected in mid-January 2024

The trial of French Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt ended on Wednesday 29 November. He was charged with favoritism in connection with a call for tenders launched in 2009 when he was mayor of the town of Annonay. According to the Parquet National Financier, which requested a ten-month suspended prison sentence and a 15,000 euro fine against Mr Dussopt, the latter allegedly favored SAUR (Société d’Aménagement Urbain et Rural) in the award of a drinking water supply contract, accusations that the company and the current Minister firmly deny. The verdict, which will also determine whether the Minister will remain in office, is due to be handed down on 17 January 2024. > Read article

#Corruption in Togo: a bitter victory for Bolloré at the Cour de Cassation

In its Wednesday 29 November ruling, the Criminal Division of the French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) decided to withdraw several pieces of evidence from the proceedings against Vincent Bolloré in the context of suspicions of corruption in Togo allegedly committed by the Bolloré group, while confirming Mr Bolloré’s indictment. In the course of the prosecution, Mr Bolloré had agreed to plead guilty in a plea bargain (CRPC) entered with the prosecutors on the case. Such plea deal was subsequently not approved by the Paris court but Mr Bolloré’s confession was not removed from the case file. The French Supreme Court acknowledged that this violated the presumption of innocence and ordered that all references to this admission of guilt be removed. > Read the article

#Criminal Law: Defining rape by the lack of consent would be “a step backwards”

A proposal for a directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence has been under discussion within the European Union since March 2022. Negotiations are struggling to make progress because of the draft Article 5, which defines rape, because certain countries such as France and Germany consider that rape is not a cross-border crime. They are also opposed to extending the definition of rape to any act of sexual penetration performed without consent. Attorneys Marie Dosé and Laure Heinrich, who were interviewed, support the French position. They fear a shift of the burden of proof to the detriment of the victim if the European proposal is adopted. Under current French law, rape requires proof that the accused used violence, threats, coercion (physical or moral) or surprise to compel the act on the victim.> Read article

The environmental judicial department now taking shape in Brest 

Legal professionals, law teachers and scientists met at a conference held on 24 November in Plouzané (Brittany), to inaugurate the environmental judicial division set up by the law of 24 December 2020 on the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, environmental justice and specialized criminal justice. This division will be based in Brest, Le Havre, Marseille, Fort-de-France, Saint-Denis de la Réunion and Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. This new division requires expert magistrates to carry out complex investigations, which the Brest Tribunal is already composed of, but will not benefit from additional resources. They will be responsible for handling the most important environmental cases.> Read article

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