Prime Minister Jean Castex on Friday seized the Superior Council of the Judiciary (CSM) for possible disciplinary errors concerning the former head of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) Eliane Houlette and a deputy prosecutor in the so-called “fadettes” case .
The Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti had launched in September an administrative investigation targeting three PNF magistrates to “verify whether any breaches had been committed” during investigations intended to identify the “mole” who could have informed Nicolas Sarkozy that he was bugged in a corruption case.
“Presumptions of disciplinary offenses”
This initiative had triggered the anger of the main magistrates’ unions worried about an “attempt to destabilize the judicial institution”. Faced with this challenge, Eric Dupond-Moretti had moved away from the issue in favor of Matignon.
The administrative investigation “concluded on presumptions of disciplinary faults liable to be blamed” on Eliane Houlette, “more precisely in her managerial behavior”, as well as “possible conflicts of interest between her professional practice and her private relations” , indicates the press release published on Friday by Matignon.
Procedure closed for a third magistrate
The Prime Minister also noted “various elements likely to give rise to serious doubt as to the respect of his ethical obligations” by the current first deputy prosecutor of the PNF, Patrice Amar. On the other hand, he decided to dismiss the procedure concerning a third magistrate implicated by Eric Dupond-Moretti.
Contacted by AFP, the president of the magistrate’s union (SM, classified on the left), Katia Dubreuil, was surprised at the reasons put forward by Matignon to seize the CSM. “This does not concern the affair of the ‘fadettes’. It’s quite for something else, ”noted Katia Dubreuil.
For the Union Syndicale des Magistrates (USM, majority), “all means are good to put pressure on magistrates and multiply disciplinary proceedings, regardless of whether or not faults are established”.
The CSM, a constitutional body guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary, can now propose a sanction ranging from simple reprimand to dismissal or else give a notice of dismissal. “It is with serenity and without astonishment that Eliane Houlette took note of the referral of the CSM by decision of the Prime Minister”, reacted to AFP his lawyer, Me Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi.
“She knew that she could have displeased for having refused – this for reasons of imperative principle – to respond to summons from the General Inspectorate of Justice (IGJ). She has so far never explained herself on alleged ethical breaches of which she is unaware, ”added the lawyer.
Patrice Amar’s lawyers, Marie Lhéritier and François Saint-Pierre, did not wish to speak immediately.
#PNF #Fadettes : And there, one Friday, around 5:36 p.m., with more than a month late on the announced schedule, Jean Castex announces that he finally seized the Superior Council of the Magistracy of the cases of Eliane Houlette and Patrice Amar in the case known as “fadettes” … pic.twitter.com/6oE8sqSyof
– Vincent Vantighem (@vvantighem) March 26, 2021
The PNF was implicated for having peeled the detailed telephone records (“fadettes”) of tenors of the bar – including Eric Dupond-Moretti, since become Minister of Justice – to identify who could have informed the former president and his lawyer Thierry Herzog that they were wiretapped in a corruption case.
“Methods of barbouzes”, according to Dupond-Moretti
In this case, Nicolas Sarkozy and Thierry Herzog were sentenced to three years in prison, including one firm, for corruption and influence peddling. The emotion aroused by this affair had pushed the former Minister of Justice Nicole Belloubet to request a report from the IGJ.
Eric Dupond-Moretti, still a lawyer, was then angry against “methods of barbouzes” and had filed a complaint in particular for “invasion of privacy”, before withdrawing the evening of his appointment as Minister of Justice in July .
The Chancellery had announced the opening of an administrative investigation in September, estimating that the IGJ report showed that “the facts raised would be likely to be regarded as breaches of the duty of diligence, professional rigor and loyalty”.