France's Justice Minister Dupond-Moretti
Photo: YOAN VALAT / EPA
The French judiciary has opened a formal investigation against Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti.
The Court of Justice of the Republic in Paris sees indications of an illegal conflict of interests of the former defense lawyer, said Dupond-Moretti's lawyers after a hearing lasting around six hours.
They announced that they wanted to take action against the decision.
The 60-year-old is accused of having used his ministerial office to personally settle accounts with public prosecutors.
Shortly after taking office just over a year ago, the minister is alleged to have initiated internal proceedings against several high-ranking judicial officials.
Prosecutors suspect retaliation by the minister for investigating Dupond-Moretti's records when he was a criminal defense attorney.
The opening of a preliminary investigation in France does not amount to an indictment.
The proceedings can ultimately lead to a criminal case if the investigators see sufficient evidence against the accused.
Otherwise you can stop the proceedings again.
According to the AFP news agency, the papers concerned a corruption case in which the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was involved.
In early March, Sarkozy was sentenced to three years in prison, among other things for bribing a judge, two of which were suspended.
The verdict is not final as Sarkozy has appealed.
Dupond-Moretti refuses to resign
The minister denies the allegations.
"The Minister of Justice is not above the law, but neither is he," Dupond-Moretti said before his hearing.
According to the AP news agency, the 60-year-old recently refused to resign.
In addition, Prime Minister Jean Castex Dupond-Moretti once again expressed his full confidence in a letter.
fek / AFP / dpa