Bettencourt magistrate victim of 'judge hunt' for 'daring' to put Sarkozy under investigation

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Judge Jean-Michel Gentil has been accused of a 'major conflict of interest' and lack of impartiality after it emerged that one of the medical experts he used in the Bettencourt investigation is a friend of his. The disclosure, which has been given massive media coverage, follows the anonymous death threats and vitriolic attacks from right-wing politicians that greeted his decision to put former president Nicolas Sarkozy under formal investigation for allegedly exploiting the mental frailty of billionaire Liliane Bettencourt. But, as Mediapart's legal affairs expert Michel Deléan explains, this is simply the latest in a catalogue of attacks on judges who dare to turn the spotlight on powerful political and business interests.

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The revelation quickly became headline news across the French media. Le Parisien newspaper revealed in its Thursday edition that the examining magistrate investigating the complex Bettencourt affair was perhaps guilty of a conflict of interest. The report said that Judge Jean-Michel Gentil had used a personal friend as one of the medical experts who pronounced on ageing L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt's mental health in June 2011.