FRANCE

Judge who charged Sarkozy receives death threat and bullet in the mail

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 3:35am
AFP

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The judge who charged former president Nicolas Sarkozy with taking financial advantage of France's richest woman has received a bullet and a death threat in the post, say lawyers.

Jean-Michel Gentil, the most prominent of three judges investigating the case, received the threatening letter together with blank cartridges on Wednesday, the magistrate's union SM said in a statement on its website.

One of Gentil's colleagues said the letter, which arrived at the judge's offices in Bordeaux, contained threats against other magistrates. Police had been called in to investigate, the colleague added.

SM denounced "insulting statements" made by some of Sarkozy's political allies which it said were designed to undermine the work of the judiciary.

It noted too that Sarkozy's own lawyer, Thierry Herzog, had questioned Gentil's impartiality.

The SM said a number of its members were targeted in the letter. Gentil is not a member of the union, one colleague said.

Sarkozy's lawyers are attempting to overturn last week's decision by three examining magistrates to charge him in a case that threatens to destroy his hopes of a political comeback.

He has repeatedly denied claims he accepted cash-stuffed envelopes from the then world's richest woman Liliane Bettencourt to fund his successful 2007 campaign.

Medical experts say the L'Oreal heiress's mental faculties began to decline in 2006.

Sarkozy's lawyer Herzog questioned Gentil's impartiality in an interview with the newspaper Journal du Dimanche.

Gentil last June put his name to an opinion column signed by dozens of legal professionals in the leading newspaper Le Monde accusing Sarkozy and his predecessor Jacques Chirac of "wishing to protect the corrupt", Herzog pointed out.

Sarkozy could face up to three years in jail, a fine of €375,000 (HK$3.7 million) and a five-year ban from public office if convicted.

 

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