Only a few hours left for the Minister of Justice to decide on his fate. After the unprecedented trial, the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) rendered its decision on Wednesday November 29 concerning Eric Dupond-Moretti, who plays his place in the government.

The Keeper of the Seals, who remained on duty during his ten days of trial but who had not missed a hearing, will be present at the Paris Courthouse to hear the decision, at 3 p.m. Before that, he had to go to the council of ministers, which ultimately will not be held on Wednesday due to the funeral of Gérard Collomb.

The CJR’s decision has already been recorded, even if it is kept secret: the judges met immediately after the trial, on November 16, to deliberate. Before reading it in public hearing, the three professional magistrates and 12 parliamentarians from all sides who make up the court must meet one last time in the morning, to validate its drafting.

The prosecution requested a one-year suspended prison sentence, stating its “conviction” that Eric Dupond-Moretti was indeed guilty of illegal taking of interests by opening, as minister, administrative investigations targeting four magistrates who he had criticized when he was a lawyer – triggering an unprecedented complaint from the judiciary unions.

A threat to his political future

The minister is “not guilty of anything”, his defense responded, pleading for acquittal. But a conviction, even “the lowest”, even “the most ridiculous”, “would be enough” to lead to his “resignation”, his lawyers argued. As this decisive deadline for his political future approaches, Eric Dupond-Moretti is “serene”, satisfied to have “been able to explain himself”, assures those around him. “For the first time” since the start of his legal troubles a few months after his surprise appointment in the summer of 2020, “he defended himself, and was defended”.

After this unprecedented trial – it is the first time that a serving minister of justice has been tried – Eric Dupond-Moretti donned the minister’s costume as if nothing had happened, holding meetings and trips. And as the decision approaches, his cabinet prepares its agenda for the weekend… even if it means having to cancel everything if the minister is found guilty.

The Elysée has let nothing leak out about its intentions in the event of the conviction of the minister, kept in office despite the indictment and referral to trial. “We have a life like the others and we are litigants like the others and therefore we have the right to the presumption of innocence like the others,” said government spokesperson Olivier Véran on Tuesday on Franceinfo, in speaking of Eric Dupond-Moretti but also of the Minister of Labor, Olivier Dussopt, who is currently being judged for favoritism. “That’s not why the French don’t have confidence in politicians,” assured Mr. Véran.

The Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, had ruled out in October the possibility that Eric Dupond-Moretti would remain in the government in the event of conviction, evoking a “clear rule” already “applied”, in reference to Minister Alain Griset, who had resigned in 2021 following his conviction.

New “complaint” from Marine Le Pen

Tuesday afternoon, for his last session of questions to the government in the National Assembly before the CJR decision, Eric Dupond-Moretti did not in any case choose to be discreet. In response to a question from a member of the National Rally (RN), he launched into a violent charge against the “indecent demagoguery” of the party, which he called to “drive out from its ranks” the “identitarians , nazillons, racists and anti-Semites”. Furious, the RN deputies left the chamber and Marine Le Pen announced “a complaint” against the minister.

During his trial, Mr. Dupond-Moretti showed himself to be his usual self, letting nothing slip and subjecting the prosecution’s witnesses to a background of grumbling, exasperated sighs and indignant exclamations. “Sorry, I’m a little excited,” the former tenor of the bar, now 62, apologized to the court. Before the CJR, he constantly swore that he had left his old differences with the magistrates far “behind him”, having only one goal left, “to succeed in his ministry”. The rest, he insisted: “I don’t care. »