Brother of Justice Minister jailed for drug dealing

21st August 2007, Comments 0 comments

NANCY, France, Aug 21, 2007 (AFP) - The brother of French Justice Minister Rachida Dati was sentenced Tuesday to 12 months in prison for drug trafficking, his second conviction on drug charges.

NANCY, France, Aug 21, 2007 (AFP) - The brother of French Justice Minister Rachida Dati was sentenced Tuesday to 12 months in prison for drug trafficking, his second conviction on drug charges.

Jamal Dati, 34, was sentenced by an appeals court in the eastern city of Nancy less than a month after parliament adopted a new law that toughened penalties for repeat offenders.

Dati had been given a six-month suspended sentence by a criminal court in February -- before his sister was named justice minister -- but prosecutors appealed it on the grounds that it was too lenient.

After the appeals court handed down the longer sentence, Dati's lawyer Frederic Berna suggested that his client was singled out for a harsh penalty because of his family ties.

"I cannot explain the flagrant disparity between the decision handed down by the lower court back when Mr Dati was nobody's brother and this ruling today," Berna said.

"He is a drug addict who had problems when he was a teenager and who suffered greatly from the death of his mother," the lawyer said before accusing the court of failing to take into account his client's efforts to reintegrate into society.

The brother of the justice minister, who is one of the most prominent faces in President Nicolas Sarkozy's government, has been behind bars before, serving 18 months of a thee-year term for dealing heroin in 2001.

A second brother, Omar, is under investigation for marijuana tafficking.

In an interview in July with a local newspaper, Jamal Dati expressed remorse for his actions and said he was determined to turn over a new leaf.

"She is who she is and I am who I am," he said of his sister, who became the first French Muslim named to a senior cabinet post when the new government was unveiled in May.

Dati herself has declined to comment on the cases. "In all families there are difficult moments, difficult stories, difficult episodes," she told RTL radio last month.

The second of 12 children born to a Moroccan labourer, Dati was brought up in a poor neighbourhood of Chalon-sur-Saone and worked as an accountant and a magistrate before being talent-spotted by Sarkozy.

AFP

Subject: French news

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