the decisive Jean-François Copé will be heard this Wednesday as part of the Bygmalion Trial. After benefiting from a dismissal, he will be heard as a witness in the Paris court.
He’s not on the bench, but his name has been on everyone’s lips since the Bygmalion Trial was opened because of the inflated spending on Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential campaign in 2012. Jean-François Copé has the opportunity to explain himself to the Paris court on Wednesday. In contrast to the former head of state, who was charged with “illegal campaign financing”, and 13 other defendants, the former head of the UMP (now Les Républicains) was dismissed.
“If I had known, I would have banned these practices”
As a simple witness, he was questioned by the 11th Chamber at around 5 p.m. “Mr Jean-François Copé is calm,” his lawyer Me Hervé Temime assured AFP. The current Mayor of Meaux has always claimed he was unaware of the false bills system put in place to get the UMP to pay the overspending rather than the rural areas – almost double the legal limit. “All that was completely kept from me,” Cope had attested to the investigators and assured that he had discovered everything at the time of the revelations in the press in 2014. “If I had known, I would have forbidden” these practices in the minute, “he had also said.
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At the end of the investigation, the public prosecutor found it “surprising that they did not try to understand” why his party was “on the verge of insolvency” at the end of April 2012. But she thought it was “nothing” as evidence that Mr. Cope had been informed of the fraud or could have exposed it. A thesis that has never been convincing in the camp of the former head of state – the sarcocysts and the Copéists have always blamed themselves. Behind the legal battle hides a major political dispute between the two camps.
Some of the other defendants (former UMP and Bygmalion executives, campaign managers, accountants) are also questionable. At the beginning of the trial, the lawyers of four of them pleaded at length for the initiation of new investigations to “shed light on” Mr. Cope. The question will be decided at the time of judgment.
Protect the boss
“I would like to understand some of the defense strategies,” replied Me Temime. Making his client the target of an acquitted trial is “to say the least,” said the lawyer. During the interrogations of the accused by the court over the past two weeks, the name of the former head of the UMP continued to be mentioned on a regular basis.
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In particular, the chairman of the Bygmalion meeting told of his calling in the office of Jean-François Cope, whom he did not know, after the revelations in the press: “Jean-François Cope enters the room, he tells me,” Franck, what is this business with bills “He mimicked.” He ends his tirade, he leaves, “he described and spoke of” deception “to cover the boss.” Strategic decisions are made in the Elysee Palace with Nicolas Sarkozy, “assured the court in turn Jérôme Lavrilleux, who at the time was both Chief of Staff of Mr Cope and Deputy Head of the Campaign of Mr Sarkozy, It was the Elysee that decided to increase the number of meetings (44 in total) at the risk of damaging the campaign accounts explode because it is important to win, argued Lavrilleux.
Very close to Jean-François Copé, like the founders of Bygmalion, Jérôme Lavrilleux was initially accused of imagining the fraudulent system as a “slush fund” for the political future of his boss. Mr Lavrilleux, the only UMP to detect fraud, has always vowed never to speak to Mr Cope so as not to get him into trouble. He repeated it in court last week: “I protect my boss”.