French justice minister faces trial over conflict of interest

French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti arrives at the Elysee Palace for the first cabinet meeting since French President Emmanuel Macron's reelection, May 23, 2022 in Paris. (MICHEL SPINGLER / AP)

PARIS – France's justice minister will stand trial before a special judicial body for suspected conflict of interest in two cases, a court spokeswoman said on Monday.

Eric Dupond-Moretti, who was one of France's most famous criminal lawyers before President Emmanuel Macron made him justice minister, is accused of having used his position to act against personal rivals within the judiciary, which he denies.

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His lawyer, Remi Lorrain, told Reuters that his client would appeal the decision to open the trial.

Eric Dupond-Moretti’s lawyer said his client was extremely confident and would appeal the decision to open the trial

"The minister is extremely confident. He will not resign," said Lorrain.

The judicial body, the Court of Justice of the Republic, deals with suspected crimes or offenses committed by members of the government during the exercise of their functions. Since its creation in 1993, it has only held eight formal trials.

Past defendants before the jury, which is composed of lawmakers and judges of France's highest court, the Cour de Cassation, have included former finance minister and current head of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde. She was found guilty of negligence over a government payout.

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Dupond-Moretti joined the French government in 2020 after being a vocal critic of what he said were France's excessively lengthy criminal trial proceedings and its overcrowded prisons.