They will have spent fifteen hours at Place Vendôme: the extremely rare search carried out at the Ministry of Justice by the magistrates of the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), as part of the investigation targeting Eric Dupond-Moretti on possible conflicts of interest between his action as Keeper of the Seals and his former duties as a lawyer, ended very late on Thursday evening. The search, which began around 9:00 am Place Vendôme ended around midnight, according to a source familiar with the matter. It was led by around twenty gendarmes from the Paris research section, with magistrates from the CJR.
Eric Dupond-Moretti, who stayed until the end, attended the search of his office. His lawyer Me Christophe Ingrain spoke to the press around 7:30 p.m. to explain that the operations took time in particular because the investigators had wanted to open old chests under the library of the Keeper of the Seals, of which no one had the key. “It took interventions with drills and grinders to discover that there was nothing inside” added the minister’s advice, who regretted “a totally disproportionate deployment of forces”.
The investigation for “illegal taking of interests” was opened in January at the CJR, the only jurisdiction empowered to judge ministers, and follows complaints filed by three magistrates’ unions and the Anticor association. This search is “a mystery” because “as soon as the announcement of the opening of the investigation, the Minister of Justice asked us to transmit to the CJR all the documents held by the Ministry of Justice concerning the facts of which the CJR is seized ”declared Me Ingrain. “The Keeper of the Seals is calm: the facts before the CJR are a procedure initiated by his predecessor, Ms. (Nicole) Belloubet, and the Minister followed the opinions of the magistrates who make up his services by referring the matter to the General Inspectorate of the Justice ”he added.
Jean Castex discreetly heard
According to the Chained Duck, Mr. Dupond-Moretti should soon be summoned by the magistrates of the CJR and risks an indictment. Prime Minister Jean Castex has already been heard on June 7 in this case, as a witness.
At the heart of the accusations is the administrative investigation ordered by Eric Dupond-Moretti in September against three magistrates of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF). All three had participated in a preliminary investigation aimed at identifying the mole who allegedly informed ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy and his lawyer Thierry Herzog that they were wiretapped in a corruption case. MM. Sarkozy and Herzog have since been sentenced in this case to three years in prison, one of which is closed, and have appealed. The PNF had been implicated for having peeled the detailed telephone records (“fadettes”) of tenors of the bar, including Eric Dupond-Moretti, a friend of Thierry Herzog.
Mr. Dupond-Moretti had then denounced “methods of barbouzes” and filed a complaint for “invasion of privacy”, before withdrawing the evening of his appointment, in July, as Keeper of the Seals. The unions also accuse him of having opened another administrative investigation against the magistrate Edouard Levrault, now stationed in Nice. Before becoming minister, Mr. Dupond-Moretti had been the lawyer of a high Monegasque police officer indicted by this magistrate, then seconded to Monaco, whose “cowboy” methods he had criticized. This judge spoke on television about this case after his forced departure from his post.
Monaco had also complained to the Chancellery and the judge had been summoned by his hierarchy – before the appointment of Mr. Dupond-Moretti – but had refused to answer questions. Once in Place Vendôme, Eric Dupond-Moretti had contacted the General Inspectorate of Justice. The Keeper of the Seals was officially excluded from these investigations and from all cases related to his former activities as a lawyer, by virtue of a decree of “deport” to Jean Castex.
Searches at the Ministry of Justice are very rare. This was the case in 2007, as part of the investigation into the death of Judge Borrel in 1995 in Djibouti, or in 2001, in this case of favoritism concerning the construction of the new court in Fort-de-France.