How the Balladur verdict highlights fatal flaws of CJR - France's ministerial court


On Thursday March 4th 2021 the Cour de Justice de la République (CJR) – which tries cases of alleged ministerial misconduct – cleared former French prime minister Édouard Balladur of any wrongdoing in the long-running Karachi affair. At the same time it found Balladur's former defence minister François Léotard guilty of complicity in the misuse of assets and handed him a two-year suspended prison sentence. The verdicts were much more lenient than those for ministerial aides in the earlier criminal trial involving the same affair. Karl Laske wonders how long the hybrid CJR court, most of whose 'judges' are politicians, can survive.

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We do not yet know if the court's president, Dominique Pauthe, has just delivered the final or penultimate judgement of the Cour de Justice de la République (CJR) or whether this institution, created in 1993, still has a few years left in it. On two occasions already, in 2013 and 2019, there have been plans to scrap this special court, whose role is to try government ministers accused of wrongdoing while in office. But on each occasion the measure was shelved.