In Lyon, legal duel between Advocate General Courroye and his former colleague Bilger

Libel against submission. Two famous magistrates ask the judges of the Lyon court to decide between them, in their absence. Their lawyers crossed swords on Tuesday, May 17, against the 6and chamber of the press, chaired by Brigitte Vernay. Philippe Courroye, 63, general counsel at the Paris Court of Appeal, is seeking the conviction for defamation of his former colleague Philippe Bilger, 78, honorary general counsel. The former judge of the financial center of the rue des Italiens requests 35,000 euros in compensation for moral damage from the former general counsel of the Paris Assize Court, as well as two judicial publications in national newspapers. In question: acerbic passages from his book the wall of idiots (Albin Michel, 2019), title referring to the mocking gallery of photos, pinned to the walls of the Syndicat de la magistrature.

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In this book, Philippe Bilger wants to denounce “a political will to empower justice”. For the former Advocate General, Philippe Courroye would personally embody submission to power, from his appointment to the post of prosecutor of Nanterre, in 2007. According to Mr. Bilger, the magistrate, erected as a model of independence at his beginnings in Lyon, would subsequently have yielded to the expectations of the powerful. The author criticizes Mr. Courroye for having slowed down the course of the Bettencourt affair, by refusing to open a judicial investigation into the alleged political financing operated by the businesswoman. Goal: to avoid the curiosity of independent judges, to limit the fallout on Nicolas Sarkozy – then President of the Republic –, and to spare the rest of his career.

“Deep acrimony”

To this imputation of moral corruption, formulated in the book of his colleague, Philippe Courroye responds by attributing to him in turn the offense of defamation. “Everything that Philippe Bilger dwells on is strictly inaccurate”, pleaded Mand Olivier Baratelli, recalling that the appointment of Philippe Courroye to Nanterre dated from the presidency of Jacques Chirac, well before Sarkozy’s five-year term. “All of a sudden, his whole thesis collapses, hammered the lawyer, recalling that the Courroye prosecutor had carried out 3,345 procedural acts, including 37 searches, in his sprawling preliminary investigation. The accusation of having wanted to stifle the Bettencourt affair, it’s pschitt. »

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The criminal lawyer also recalls the conviction of the former boss of Alstom, in 2006, to nine months in prison suspended and a fine, following an investigation for abuse of corporate assets, led by judge Philippe Courroye. However, the head of the company is called Pierre Bilger, brother of the general counsel. Hence the thesis of a “deep acrimony”, the origin of the book intended to settle a personal account. For meand Baratelli, the imprudent author ticks all the boxes of defamation, including that of animosity. All the more unforgivable, according to the lawyer, since the former deputy was in office for four years at the 17and correctional chamber of Paris, and even the author of a “Que sais-je? on press law.

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