Le Figaro Nice
Lawyer and activist Juan Branco seems not to have said his last word on the attack of July 14, 2016 in Nice (Alpes-Maritimes). On behalf of his client, a police officer from Nice, he filed a complaint with the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) on 17 November against Bernard Cazeneuve, former Minister of the Interior and then Prime Minister under President François Hollande.
In his request, seen by Le Figaro and confirming the information of the regional daily Nice-Matin, he accuses the former tenant of Place Beauvau of "involuntary manslaughter" and "endangering the lives of others", in connection with the security of the premises and the context. That evening, on the Promenade des Anglais, 86 people lost their lives as a result of a truck attack and 458 were injured.
This new legal action comes a month after the Nice prosecutor reclassified a complaint filed by lawyer Virginie Le Roy, who represents the victims' association "Promenade des Anges", for the same charges and targeting the city and the prefecture. Contacted about her case, the lawyer said she would like "the judges to speed up a little" because according to her, "it drags on too long".
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But Juan Branco - who took advantage of this requalification - targets an individual in particular, Bernard Cazeneuve, the former first cop of France at the time of the facts. According to him, the latter would also have a share of political responsibility for these tragic events. "It's a question of going beyond the current procedure, with a different approach," he explains to Le Figaro, confidently of himself. It is essential that the CJR opens an investigation because there have been many failures and the former minister must explain why," he continued, also targeting "the dialectic of the state".
In his reasoning, France's joining the international coalition in Iraq and Syria at that time would have increased the risk of attacks on French territory and the threat would not have been taken seriously enough by the minister. "He preferred to encourage people to go to big events," says Juan Branco. The troublemaker lawyer puts it this way in his 21-page complaint: "the minister did not prepare or order anything, in full knowledge of the risk involved," even seeing it as "an act of negligence" on his part.
His client, a police officer on the ground on July 14, 2016, whom he described as "experienced", had expressed his concerns about the system deployed around the "Prom'party", which he considered "very light". Today, Mr. Branco describes him as "completely traumatized, with a broken life and struggling to rebuild himself." "With this approach, he is taking risks but he is courageous," he adds.
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Report in 2024?
His complaint is expected to be reported by one of the seven members of the CJR, but if it does, it won't be until next year. The Committee on Petitions, such as this one against a former Minister of State, meets once a month. The three judges of the Court of Cassation, the two councillors of the Court of Auditors and the two of the Council of State, are due to meet on 18 December for a final session before a new election and renewal.
As a result, this approach against Bernard Cazeneuve will either be rejected on that day, or studied for a possible follow-up with a renewed commission, but not before February 2024. "If we close our case in December, we will go straight to the European Court of Human Rights," Branco said.
While some see it as a "buzz stunt", Juan Branco is keen to demonstrate some form of political culpability. At least, he wants Bernard Cazeneuve to be "interrogated". The lawyer denounced "scandalous promotions" after this attack, "while my client received a chocolate medal that he still can't digest".