When Renaud Van Ruymbeke denounced “the excesses” of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office | EUROtoday

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LHe had refused to ship Nicolas Sarkozy to felony courtroom within the Bygmalion affair (for which the previous president was sentenced on February 14 on enchantment to 1 yr of imprisonment, together with six months suspended), leaving his colleague Serge Tournaire to cautious to signal, alone, the order which had prompted the previous head of state to look for “illegal financing of an electoral campaign”, alongside 13 different defendants.

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The investigating decide Renaud Van Ruymbeke, who died this Friday, May 10, was too respectful of the establishment he had served for forty-two years to publicly develop on his disagreement with Judge Tournaire, with whom he had labored. in pairs on this burning subject – and which had led them to completely fall out. Welcoming us for the discharge of his memoirs, in 2021 (Memoirs of a decide who is just too unbiased, Tallandier editions), “VR”, as he was nicknamed till his retirement in June 2019, was content material with this laconic remark: “I do not want to interfere with the normal course of justice. I will simply say that it is a duty not to sign when we do not agree. »

The entire ethics of Judge Van Ruymbeke lay in this refusal to associate his name with a decision that he did not share, even if it meant being reproached by his peers for failing in his “duty of judicial solidarity” (he preferred to speak of “corporatism”, an angle that he loathes and describes as a “scourge”).

“Being independent, for a judge, means first of all not having a career concern in mind, so as to be able to act freely,” he confided. It additionally means feeling free vis-à-vis the investigators, the events [défense, accusation, victimes] and keep the mandatory perspective to understand conditions as objectively as attainable, even when we’re by no means fully goal. To be unbiased is to instruct in cost and in protection; it's having the ability to pay attention and doubt, two troublesome qualities, whether or not you're a decide or not. » In his e book, he selected to breed this quote from Jean Jaurès: “Courage is seeking the truth and telling it. » Even if it means displeasing his peers.

For the separation of the judiciary between the seat and the prosecution

On “the affair of the fadettes”, revealed by Point in June 2020, Renaud Van Ruymbeke spoke bluntly: “For me, this is clearly a deviation, even if the approach is not illegal. Going through the phone records of a lawyer or a magistrate, I would never have done it. This can be considered if the person concerned is involved in the procedure, but for this, evidence is required. » So, he said “understand the anger of the lawyers”.

Judge Van Ruymbeke had not escaped the examination of his personal phone listings, the PNF prosecutors, who carried out their investigations within the best secrecy, looking for to know if the mole they had been monitoring within the Bismuth affair – they by no means uncovered it – was not hiding in one of many monetary judges' chambers. “As soon as I found out, I expressed my strongest disapproval to the prosecutor [Éliane Houlette] and to the president of the court [judiciaire de Paris] », he was indignant, judging this research as “serious” because it was “absurd”. “How do you expect a judge who is not seized of a file, and who is therefore unaware of its content, to be able to orchestrate leaks? » he asked himself in a sigh which spoke volumes about the disapproval this affair inspired in him.

Supporter of a separation of the judiciary into two distinct bodies (seat and prosecution), having used pre-trial detention only sparingly during his career, when others considered that there was no better to “tenderize the meat” (Eva Joly), Renaud Van Ruymbeke had discovered nothing mistaken with the arrival of Éric Dupond-Moretti on the chancellery, when the USM, the bulk union amongst magistrates, noticed it as “a declaration of conflict “. He had applauded “with both hands” the appointment of a lawyer to head the National School of the Judiciary, a decision which had caused so much disruption in the judicial system. It's an understatement to say that he didn't just have friends in the industry. He didn't care, he who said he felt “deeply a Justice of the Peace however completely overseas to the judicial physique”, of which he had been “rejected”.

Even if he exercised it all his life – with the exception of a foray into the public prosecutor's office, which was quickly cut short – Renaud Van Ruymbeke was not a staunch supporter of the function of investigating judge, as Balzac, in his time, described as “the most powerful man in France”. “Don’t forget that it was Napoleon, who was not really a great democrat, who created the job,” he recalled. “Its disappearance can very well be envisaged, provided that the prosecution becomes independent. We are far from it and, in the meantime, the investigating judge remains a real guarantee: that justice does not operate at two speeds; that a certain number of fundamental rights (access to the file, possibility of requesting investigative actions, etc.) be recognized for the accused, which is not the case in investigations carried out by the public prosecutor's office”, he defended .

Éliane Houlette, when she headed the PNF, claimed to maintain a sure variety of recordsdata in her possession, within the identify of supposed “effectivity”. More than as soon as, Renaud Van Ruymbeke was moved by this.

Van Ruymbeke castigated by Mitterrand

“Vets of power”, “enslaved”, “unworthy”… In his e book, Renaud Van Ruymbeke was not sort to his colleagues within the public prosecutor's workplace, whom he had typically discovered on his route, at all times fast to accuse him of obstacles, from the beginning of his profession – with the Boulin affair – and, a few years later, on the time of the Urba affair, which led him to go looking the headquarters of the Socialist Party and indict his treasurer, Henri Emmanuelli.

In his needs of July 14, 1992, President Mitterrand publicly demonstrated his help for this trustworthy lieutenant, denouncing the “bizarre procedures” of this overbearing decide. “Unthinkable today,” Renaud Van Ruymbeke wished to consider. Who added all the identical: “Forty years ago, prosecutors were under orders and did not hesitate to hinder our actions if the executive asked them to do so. Fortunately, the lines have moved, but everything is not settled. The prosecutors have emancipated themselves but their status has not changed: there is always feedback to the Ministry of Justice, which also retains the power of appointments. Recovery is always possible. » “As long as the national financial prosecutor – like all prosecutors, moreover – is designated by the Minister of Justice, suspicion will continue to weigh, at least in sensitive cases involving politicians,” he added.

Independence has “nothing to do with self-management”, insisted Renaud Van Ruymbeke. “Corporatism is about one another. Only a renovated Superior Council of the Judiciary, consultant of society, democratic and fewer depending on a heavy judicial hierarchy and influential union networks, ought to be capable to appoint and handle the careers of judges and prosecutors. We are removed from it. »

READ ALSO Who does the National Financial Prosecutor's Office work for? However, there isn’t a query of throwing the child out with the bathwater. “The creation, in 2013, of the PNF, which manages a variety of instances involving huge embezzlement, was progress as a result of it allowed magistrates to focus on advanced instances which require expertise and technicality. For worldwide judicial cooperation, it is very important have a single interlocutor, in any case recognized. Deleting it might due to this fact be a mistake. » But he added: “It will not be a lot the reform of the PNF as that of the prosecution that have to be thought of. As lengthy as prosecutors stay underneath the management of the chancellery, their legitimacy can be tainted as a result of they’ll proceed to be suspected, rightly or wrongly, of obeying authorities orders. »