"It's the pot of earth against the pot of iron," summarized in his own way Me Clotilde Brémond, Tuesday evening, before the criminal court of Meaux. Alongside the lawyer, his client Rosie (not her real name), a 66-year-old Beninese woman, who came to denounce her former employers. The judgement came at around 23 p.m.: the couple who employed him as their children's nanny were found guilty of performing concealed work, employing an unauthorized foreigner and subjecting a vulnerable person to undignified housing conditions.
They received eighteen months' suspended sentences. Both spouses will also have to pay a fine of 20,000 euros each. The judges also imposed a three-year ban on managing and publishing the judgment in a newspaper.
The wife, niece of the President of the Republic of Congo
Only the father of the family, a 46-year-old resident of Pomponne, appeared at his trial. His wife ― who is none other than a niece of Denis Sassou-Nguesso, the president of the Republic of Congo ― was represented by a lawyer. While the defendant admitted to failing to declare his employee, between 2014 and 2018, he firmly denied having forced her to sleep on the floor.
Me Clotilde Brémond highlighted her client's state of vulnerability: "From a social and economic point of view, she was dependent on this family, who housed and employed her. And she was in an irregular situation. As employers, they had to be concerned about his accommodation conditions. Is it respectable, in France, not to offer a personal place to your employee, with something to store her belongings? And Me Brémond to recall that his client "could not contribute to retirement, unemployment, health insurance".
The presiding judge had summed up the case in his own way, looking at the defendant, uncomfortable: "When we calculate the unpaid charges for four years, we arrive at more than 200,000 euros. Imagine someone steals 200,000 euros from a supermarket. What should be decided? »
"My client is a fraudster but not a slaveholder"
Deputy prosecutor Eric de Valroger immediately reframed the debate: "These are not acts of physical abuse, kidnapping or human trafficking. These are major frauds at Urssaf, with three victims, deprived of social guarantees, pension rights and unemployment. This confusion of genders, with an employee called Maman, suited employers well. There was personal enrichment because they saved money by not paying the charges. »
For him, no doubt, there was talk of unworthy accommodation: "This employee did not have a personal space to ensure her privacy. The defendants knew she was sleeping on the bathroom floor. It was up to them to provide him with a room. And if she lied when she said she had AIDS, it was to escape their grasp. I don't care about this lie. »
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Laurent Boula, one of the defense lawyers, defended the image of an employer "concerned" about his employees: "He did not want to throw them away like kleenex. He let his heart speak. If he had been rigorous, he would have said: No residence permit, no job." For his part, Sébastien Journé refuted the idea of a "vulnerable" nanny: "What should these employers do? Forcing him to go to a bed? Everyone fell from the clouds. She did not work 24 hours a day. She had her Beninese passport and could come and go. She says she didn't have a single day off but was alone for two months during the holidays. She was a woman of character, integrated into the family and very well regarded. »
As for Gilles-William Goldnanel, third defense lawyer, he "pleaded for the morality of the debates", believing that there were "several intellectual perversions in this case". He castigated the offence of undignified conditions: "It was a given to the debates that she wanted to sleep on the floor. So we are sent back to court because we did not succeed in forcing him to sleep in a bed? We are not dealing with a mythomaniac but with a patent liar. My client is a fraudster but not a slaveholder. »