On Monday March 1, Nicolas Sarkozy was sentenced to three years in prison, one of which was closed, in the wiretapping case. He is the second president of the Fifth Republic sentenced to prison, after Jacques Chirac in 2011. A verdict that sparked an outcry among his lieutenants, denouncing “judicial harassment” and “disproportionate punishment”. For them, the person responsible for the judgment is none other than the PNF, the national financial prosecutor’s office.
“All light should be shed on the methods and independence of the PNF”, tweets President LR Christian Jacob. “Our justice is hijacked for political ends, with the PNF as standard bearer”, denounces in the wake the deputy Pierre-Henri Dumont. “This disproportionate sentence is likely to seriously question the impartiality of a national financial prosecutor’s office whose methods are questionable”, adds the mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart.
All these LR elected officials would however need a little lesson in law, before denouncing the judicial harassment. Because the role of the PNF is not to judge, but, as its name suggests, to investigate white-collar crime. Once entered, the PNF must verify whether an infraction has been committed. And if there is a trial, as was the case with Nicolas Sarkozy, it is therefore the PNF who is in charge of the requisitions, facing the defense lawyer.
It is never the prosecutor who judges. But an independent tribunal. In this case, it was the Paris Criminal Court that decided to partly follow the PNF’s requisitions. But remember, moreover, that he did not follow them in full, since four years in prison, including two suspended sentences, had been required during the trial in December!
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