Article published the Sunday 21 August 2011 -
Latest update : Sunday 21 August 2011
Chirac, Villepin, Galliano, Carlos the Jackal among autumn star court turns in France
The court before the opening of the Clearstream trial on 2 May Reuters/Charles Platiau
Big names will be in the dock this autumn when French courts get down to business after the summer holidays. They will hear from top politicians, religious groups, a fashion designer and “the Jackal”, in cases of graft, illegal detention, murder and unfair labour practices.
A busy judicial autumn lies ahead and it should keep magistrates, lawyers and journalists in busy through the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.
Some of the accused anxiously awaiting their day(s) in court are:
- Jacques Chirac (5-23 September) – the former French president again faces charges of corruption at City Hall when he was mayor of Paris; the long-running fake jobs scandal will also put former trade union boss Marc Blondel and General Charles De Gaulle’s grandson, Jean, charged, while Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppé has been named as a witness.
- Olivier Besancenot (5 September) – the postman, former presidential candidate and spokesperson for the hard-left New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) is charged with holding 13 members of Post Office human resources against their will when he and other trade unionists occupied their office during an industrial dispute.
- Dominique de Villepin (14 September) – the former prime minister and UN speech star could face a 15-month suspended sentence and serious damage to his political career if he loses the next stage of his trial in the Clearstream affair, an appeal by prosecutors against him being let off earlier this year.
- Jean and Xavière Tibéri (26 September–11 October) – What is it with Paris mayors? The 1995-2001 incumbent and his wife, who have had a tempestuous relationship with Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP and its predecesor the RPR, appeal against prison sentences and fines for electoral fraud in the city’s fifth arrondissement.
- John Galliano (8 September) – Sentence will be passed on the erstwhile fashion star for anti-Semitic insults during a drunken tirade in Paris’s swish Marais district - a case which grabbed headline worldwide and can be counted on to do so again.
- Opus Dei (22-23 September) – The secretive and powerful Roman Catholic faction, accused of all manner of plots and conspiracies worldwide, will have to come out of the shadows to face accusations of infringement of labour law by a disgruntled former member.
- Dieter Krombach (3-21 October) – The German, who was kidnapped and left outside an Alsace police station in 2009, stands accused of murdering his stepdaughter, Kalinka Bamberski; his trial was put off in April because of his poor health.
- Carlos the Jackal (2 November-16 December) – The world’s most famous “terrorist” (now that ben Laden’s dead), whose real name is Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, will be tried for four bombings that killed 11 people between 1982 and 1983, just a small part of his long career, which has been the subject of articles, books and a film.
- The Church of Scientology (3 November-1 December) – The Paris branch of the church, which is officially a sect under French law, will hope to overturn a previous condemnation to hefty fines for organised fraud.
Also on the courts’ calendar are judgements of responsibility for a fire which killed 17 people in a Paris slum in 2005 (15-30 September) and the explosion at a Toulouse factory which killed 31 and injured thousands in 2001 (starts 3 November and expected to last several months).