Former French interior minister in dock over cash payments

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Claude Guéant, Nicolas Sarkozy's former chief of staff and interior minister, one-time national police chief Michel Gaudin and three other top officials who worked for the ex-president are in court this week, accused of misappropriating public funds by receiving tens of thousands of euros in cash payments. The money was siphoned off from a ministerial fund supposed to pay for police investigations. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan reports.

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It is a trial without precedent in France. Top members of the French prefecture – a prestigious body of senior state officials – are standing in the dock like common criminals. Claude Guéant, who is also a former interior minister, former police chief Michel Gaudin plus other senior officials Daniel Canepa, Michel Camux and Gérard Moisselin, are appearing before judges in the 32nd chamber of the Paris criminal law courts facing a range of charges including “embezzling public funds”, “aiding and abetting” and “receiving the proceeds of embezzlement”. The trial technically began on Monday, September 28th, but the hearing that day was taken up with procedural issues raised by the defence. The trial proper started on Thursday October 1st.