First turn of the screw in the Laporte-Altrad trial: the defense requests “the dismissal of the hearing”

First turn of the screw in the Laporte-Altrad trial: the defense requests "the dismissal of the hearing"

The “Laporte trial” opened on Wednesday afternoon at the Paris Criminal Court. But the defense of the five defendants, who claim access to parts of the file that have been deprived so far, asked the court to dismiss the hearing.

In the Paris Criminal Court, a huge new ocean liner located in the west of the capital, room 212 is located on the second floor. Gathered there today are some twenty journalists from all walks of life, magistrates, the alleged victims (the Anticor association, the National Rugby League, the FFR, the Urssaf Languedoc-Roussillon), a witness (the director general of the FFR Laurent Gabannini), a handful of lawyers, as well as the five defendants in the case before us: Bernard Laporte, Mohed Altrad, Serge Simon, Claude Atcher, and his former Score XV right-hand man, Benoit Rover.

It is there, then, that what is agreed to be called the Laporte trial opened on Wednesday afternoon and will end (in theory) on September 22. At the start of the hearing, President Rose-Marie Hunault first asked the five defendants, all major French and international rugby players, to confirm their identity, before laying out the charges against each other in detail: “Concealment of abuse of corporate assets “. for Claude Atcher, “passive corruption” for Bernard Laporte, “illegal appropriation of interests” for Serge Simon or “active influence peddling” for Mohed Altrad. It was then that the audience’s first twist occurred.

Was the PNF approximate?

After the usual presentations, the lawyers of Claude Atcher and Benoit Rover therefore formulated a first request to annul the summonses of their two clients. “Madam President, said Master Celine Lasek, I ask you to simply and simply cancel Claude Atcher’s summons. Why is he being prosecuted? What are the charges against him? I spent days doing calculations, but the amount advanced by the national financial prosecutor’s office (of 80,400 euros, relating to a bonus without cause paid by the FFR, editor’s note) corresponds to nothing. My client is also accused of “unforeseen” personal expenses: but how many expenses, at the fair? And not foreseen by what or by whom? When someone is summoned to the bar of a court, the summons must have the precision of the blade of a knife and it is not the case. Brice Grazzini, Benoît Rover’s lawyer, thus supported the remission of the hearing. “How can one, after four years of research, write such incomprehensible demands?”

Against the ropes by the defense lawyers, François-Xavier Dulin, the financial prosecutor in charge of the investigation, immediately counterattacked: “With Score XV (the company of Claude Atcher and Benoit Rover), we never have anything and you never know.” Any! There is no tax or social declaration (in 2016 and 2017, editor’s note), nothing! This company is a ghost and it is not possible in a declarative system like the French one! Now they ask me about the costs subject to the reproach. I’ll tell you this: Mr. Atcher’s whole life is occupied by the Score XV company: day care, rent, and the rest… Score XV and Claude Atcher, it’s the same pocket!

The defense demands “the fadettes”

United before an accusation formed by two magistrates of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office, the ten defense attorneys were surprised that they did not have access to certain documents in the file. In reality, these were fadettes (detailed records of telephone communications) on which the policemen of the BRDE (Brigade for the Repression of Economic Crimes) had relied to advance their investigations.

Antoine Vey, a lawyer for Mohed Altrad, explained: “I ask to be able to access the fadettes that have allowed the investigators to advance their investigation. Until then, we have only had access to an Excel table that has no value.” Then, addressing deputy prosecutor François-Xavier Dulin: “You refer people to court about data you haven’t seen.” To which Fanny Colin, one of Bernard Laporte’s lawyers, added: “If these fadettes do not exist, we will request the annulment of the minutes based on them. The table and the software that the financial prosecutor’s office talks about are not enough. I want the raw data, that’s all.”

Possible dismissal?

After deliberating for an hour, President Rose-Marie Hunault decided to suspend the hearing at around 6:00 p.m., giving the defendants an appointment for the following day (1:30 p.m.) for the continuation of the process, while requesting the national financial prosecutor’s office to provide the fadettes in question to the file as soon as possible. But what if these were ultimately not provided? Possibly the record based on the communications between the accused would be withdrawn from the procedure and with them the entire section dedicated to the section of the disciplinary commission would remain (it is suspected that Bernard Laporte has pressured it to favor Montpellier and Mohed Altrad) that would collapse with him .

Could the trial be postponed in its entirety? Impossible to say at the moment. But one thing is certain: these debates promise to be fierce, long and complex…

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