Human rights judges have dismissed a complaint against France which concerned the intervention of former President Sarkozy in criminal proceedings against the applicant Abdoul Aziz Thiam.
The European court decided today that a civil claim for damages by Nicolas Sarkozy, then serving as France’s President, did not breach Thiam’s right to a fair trial.
In its Chamber judgment in the case of Thiam v. France (application no. 80018/12) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
no violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In September 2008 the Société Générale bank lodged a criminal complaint against a person or persons unknown for forgery, uttering forged documents, and fraud, following complaints by Sarkozy, the then President of the Republic, about banking operations conducted on his account.
In October 2008 the public prosecutor began a judicial investigation in respect of fraud within an organised gang. During the investigation Sarkozy applied to join the proceedings as a civil party.
The European court found that Sarkozy’s intervention as a civil party in the criminal proceedings against Thiam had not created an imbalance in the parties’ rights and in the conduct of the proceedings.
The court also held that the participation in the proceedings of a public figure who played an institutional role in the career development of judges was capable of casting a legitimate doubt on the latter’s independence and impartiality.
However, after examining the manner in which judgeswere appointed, their statutory condition and the particular circumstances of the case, it saw no reason to conclude that the judges called upon to decide in the applicant’s case were not independent for the purposes of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.