The Paris criminal court acquitted six feminists, including elected environmentalist Alice Coffin, on Friday May 17 in their trial for defamation and public insult brought by the former deputy for culture of the mayor of Paris, Christophe Girard. On the other hand, the Paris court rejected the request for compensation from the defense lawyers.

The two elected officials and four feminist activists were prosecuted by Mr. Girard for publications on X in July 2020 denouncing his links with Gabriel Matzneff, a writer accused of child abuse. Contacted by Agence France-Presse (AFP), Anne Hidalgo’s former deputy announced that he would appeal this decision.

The Christophe Girard affair broke out a few months after the release of the book Le Consentement by Vanessa Springora, in which she recounted the relationship under influence experienced, at the age of 14, with Gabriel Matzneff, who was 50.

“It’s going much better,” the other elected environmentalist being prosecuted, Raphaëlle Rémy-Leleu, told AFP as she left the courtroom. “It was an extremely long, extremely costly, extremely trying political and then legal sequence,” she continued, affirming that she had “an enormous thought for all the victims of Gabriel Matzneff”. Alice Coffin considered that this release was “obvious”.

But the trained journalist, in “angry”, denounces lawyer fees “for our apple”, which amount, according to her, to thousands of euros. She is therefore concerned about the signal sent to all those who would like to raise “the voice against child criminal violence in this society”.

“No rape culture deputy”

The six feminists were prosecuted by Christophe Girard, 68, for comments or visuals relayed on social networks such as “Paris City Hall, no deputy for rape culture” or “Girard for culture? HLM, prices, pension, honor for paedos.” According to the court, the remarks “Paris Town Hall, no deputy for rape culture”, were presented in the form of a play on words and did not exceed the admissible limits of freedom of expression.

“I read with surprise and astonishment the cynicism of the judgment,” Christophe Girard told AFP. The municipal councilor of the 18th arrondissement is surprised to see that the association of his name with “rape culture” is a “play on words”. “Elected officials are not comedians,” he asserted.

During this trial, on March 14 and 15, feminists, in unison, denounced a “SLAPP procedure” to silence them. A qualifier challenged by Christophe Girard’s lawyer.