In an unprecedented trial regarding a conflict of interest, French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti has been acquitted by the judges of the Republic’s Court of Justice. The prosecution had sought a one-year suspended prison sentence for the minister, suspecting him of exploiting his position to settle scores with judges who criticized him when he was a lawyer.
The judges, who are the only ones authorized to try ministers accused of misconduct in their official duties, declared Dupond-Moretti “not guilty,” rejecting the prosecutor’s request for a conviction. This outcome spares him from leaving his ministerial position.
Defense lawyer Jacqueline Laffont expressed satisfaction with the verdict, stating, “This is what the law dictates. It is clear that we feel content and deeply moved.”
The prosecution had accused the minister of using his office to settle scores with four judges who criticized him when he was a lawyer, seeking a one-year suspended prison sentence. Following the ruling, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne welcomed the decision and stated, “The Court of Justice of the Republic has made its decision and acquitted Eric Dupond-Moretti. The Minister of Justice will continue to perform his duties within the government team, serving the French people. I am delighted.”
Dupond-Moretti, a former lawyer with 36 years of experience before his ministerial appointment, faced allegations of unlawfully protecting interests. The charges stemmed from a separate judicial investigation targeting former President Nicolas Sarkozy on suspicion of bribery.
In June 2020, the financial crimes prosecutor’s office initiated an investigation into Dupond-Moretti’s alleged involvement in informing Sarkozy and his lawyer Thierry Herzog about their phones being wiretapped in the case targeting them. Herzog is a close friend of Dupond-Moretti.
Since becoming Minister of Justice in July 2020, Dupond-Moretti ordered an administrative investigation to identify potential individual errors by judges and the chief prosecutor specializing in financial crimes who investigated him.
The minister asserted that he only targeted these judges to implement “recommendations” issued by the Ministry of Justice and claimed that the investigation against him aimed to tarnish his reputation as a former lawyer, citing strained relationships with judges.