Former Prime Minister François Fillon, tried in Paris for having “ fictitiously ” employed his wife Penelope, promised Thursday “ the truth ” to his judges, while denouncing the “ irreparable damage ” caused according to him by this affair.
Dark suit, sheets of paper in hand, François Fillon, 65, stepped forward for his first speech since the opening on Monday of his trial before the criminal court.
With a closed face and a clear voice, he explained that he had decided to make a statement following comments made the previous day by the national financial prosecutor's office, which " left him the choice between the death penalty and victimization ".
Also read: The Hour of Truth by François Fillon
One of the prosecutors had observed that " under the Ancien Régime ", embezzlement of public funds, one of the crimes alleged against François Fillon, was punished with " death by hanging ".
After rejecting at the start of the hearing two priority questions of constitutionality (QPC) presented by the defense, the court began to examine the first part of the case: the employment of Penelope Fillon as parliamentary assistant to her husband, then deputy of the Sarthe.
Ms. Fillon, 64, who is tried for complicity and concealment of embezzlement of public funds, took place between her two former employers: her husband and the latter's former deputy in the National Assembly Marc Joulaud, 52 years old. All three face ten years' imprisonment, heavy fines and ineligibility.
" The damage is irreparable "
The case broke out in January 2017, pulverizing the campaign of the right-wing candidate for the presidential election.
" I have already been condemned without appeal by a media tribunal, " vilified François Fillon, denouncing " repeated, continuous, premeditated violations " of the presumption of innocence. " The damage is irreparable: the presidential election of course ", but also " the place of the current of thought that I represented ", assured the accused, adding to the address of the court: " Whatever decision you take nothing will change. "
At his trial, scheduled to last until March 11, François Fillon intends to " defend " his " honor, that of (his) wife and that of Marc Joulaud ". He promised " the truth about the essential work accomplished " by his wife.
Ms. Fillon and Mr. Joulaud did not wish to make an opening statement.