He was a “hero of justice”, in the words of Robert Badinter, Keeper of the Seals at the time: magistrates, lawyers and police paid tribute on Thursday to the anti-drug judge Pierre Michel, murdered 40 years earlier in Marseille.
On October 21, 1981, Judge Michel, 38, was shot dead on his motorcycle on his way home for lunch with his daughters. That day, “justice had just suffered a very heavy defeat”, recalled Thursday the journalist Alex Panzani, the last to have spoken to him before the tragedy, during a tribute conference organized by the judicial tribunal from Marseille.
Forty years later, “the pain is still there”, testified Thursday Béatrice Michel, one of the daughters of the judge, “in forty years, the case has never let us breathe.” “Towards the end he felt overwhelmed, let down, should he have left Marseille, gone? No doubt… ”, she wondered.
Overdoses in restaurant toilets
Judge Michel, passionate about his cases to which he devoted himself “body and soul” according to those who worked with him, managed, in a few years, to dismantle several drug laboratories and to imprison dozens of thugs.
At that time, recalls Alex Panzani, “the city was literally vampirized by the” French connection “”, this international network of heroin trafficking whose nerve center was in Marseille.
When Pierre Michel, who came from Metz, took up his duties in Marseille in 1975, “it was the discovery of overdoses, corpses in the toilets of restaurants on the coast”, recalled Paul-Louis Aumeras, former deputy prosecutor in Marseille. .
If Judge Michel was still alive, wondered the current Marseille prosecutor Dominique Laurens, “it would undoubtedly be devastated to see that the criminal mechanisms he was attacking are still active”.
On the occasion of this commemoration, the guests of the conference looked at the role of the examining magistrate and its evolution since the 1980s, in the presence in particular of the former Minister of Justice Dominique Perben.