The European Court will examine a request from former minister François Léotard

Former Defense Minister François Léotard questions “the fairness of the criminal proceedings” against him in the Karachi case. This Monday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decided to examine his request.

The judicial body of the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, published Monday “questions to the parties”, a procedural step in the examination of this request filed by François Léotard in August.

Secret Commissions and the Balladur Campaign

The former minister was sentenced in March 2021 by the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) to a two-year suspended prison sentence for complicity in the misuse of corporate assets concerning a system of secret commissions on arms contracts with the Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. These would have helped finance the ill-fated presidential campaign of Edouard Balladur in 1995.

These suspicions had emerged in 2010, during the investigation into the attack in Karachi committed on May 8, 2002, which had cost the lives of eleven Frenchmen from the Direction des constructions navales (DCN) working on the construction of submarines. . After two decades, this attack has still not been elucidated.

Appeal in cassation rejected

François Léotard had lodged an appeal in cassation of his conviction by the CJR, but this was rejected in June 2021. Invoking a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which defends the right to a fair trial, the former minister “complains about the late notification of his right to silence”.

In addition, he “maintains that he was not tried within a reasonable time and adds that the age of the facts necessarily deprived him of a fair trial, given the disappearance of the witnesses and the decline of the evidence. “. The “questions to the parties” addressed by the ECHR do not prejudge the court’s decision on the admissibility of the request or on a possible condemnation of France.

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