PoliticsWorld

The trial of Francois Fillon and his wife began in Paris

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Court hearings in the case of former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and his wife Penelope began Wednesday in the Paris Correctional Court. The ex-official and his wife are accused of embezzlement of state funds, abuse of state property, violation of the law on the reporting of politicians about their financial situation.

The scandal surrounding Fillon, who at that time was the leading figure in the French center-right, erupted during the 2017 presidential campaign. 

The weekly newspaper Le Canard enchaine  made the statement that the wife of the former prime minister and presidential candidate for eight years received a salary as a parliamentary assistant, without doing any work.

Initially, the politician himself appointed Penelope Fillon to this position, being a deputy of the National Assembly. After he was appointed prime minister, the wife of Fillon was re-registered by his successor, deputy Marc Julot, and so increasing her salary that she significantly exceeded his own.

Now he is in the dock with the Fillons. As the investigation found out, only in the period 2012-2013 Penelope Fillon thus received € 135 thousand. And from the late 1990s to 2013 – € 7.5 million.

In addition to illegally receiving a salary in the National Assembly, Penelope Fillon was accused by the media of fictitiously being an employee of the magazine “Review de de Mond”, owned by billionaire Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, a friend of Fillon. There she also received a large salary, not performing, according to the investigation, practically no work.

Some of these violations of the law committed by the Fillons during the period of the 1980s can no longer be considered due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. Nevertheless, the couple will have to answer for the fact that in the later period of 1998-2013, Fillon unreasonably received a salary of more than € 1 million.

French laws severely punish fictitious jobs for 65-year-old Fillon, his wife and their accomplice they face prison sentences of up to 10 years, fines of up to € 150 thousand, a ban on working in elected posts for a number of years.

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In addition, as BFMTV emphasized in his commentary, Francois Fillon himself cruelly paid for his misconduct even before the trial: he not only lost the presidential election in 2017, in which he was the leading candidate, but now as a result of the scandal he was deleted from the French political life.

The French National Assembly, acting as a civil plaintiff, requires the former prime minister and his spouses to return all the illegally obtained funds to the lower house of parliament – an unprecedented case in the political history of France.

Nevertheless, despite the seriousness of the charges, the lawyers of the couple Filonov intend to prove during the trial that, despite the fact that there were no material traces of Penelope’s work as assistant deputies, this was due to the fact that she was mainly responsible for the installation and maintaining contacts with the right people, in particular with representatives of the Sart department, from which the politician was elected. 

It is also expected that the defense will provide evidence of the work that Penelope Fillon carried out in the journal, which was listed as a literary consultant and was supposed to prepare reference materials.

Previously, the investigation rejected many of these documents as insignificant. During the investigation, it was found out that Penelope Fillon did not even have a pass to the National Assembly, she did not have a personal office, she did not compile a single working or background document.

As a BFMTV correspondent said from the courthouse after the start of the trial, Fiyonov’s lawyers tried to insist that all charges be dropped from their clients. To which the prosecutor for economic offenses reminded them that for the theft of public funds “French laws in 1810 provided for execution by hanging.”