EC to decide on Cresson fraud charge Monday

16th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, July 16 (AFP) - The European Commission will rule Monday on whether former French premier Edith Cresson should stand trial at the European Court of Justice for abuse of her office when she served as a commissioner in the late 1990s, commission sources said Friday.

BRUSSELS, July 16 (AFP) - The European Commission will rule Monday on whether former French premier Edith Cresson should stand trial at the European Court of Justice for abuse of her office when she served as a commissioner in the late 1990s, commission sources said Friday.  

Last month a Belgian court dropped all charges against Cresson relating to an alleged  corruption scandal that brought down the European Commission in 1999.  

Assistant prosecutor Marianne Thomas said the charges were political and should not have been presented in a court of law.

They related to research contracts Cresson, responsible for education and research from 1994 to 1999, awarded to her personal dentist, Rene Bertholet.  

But sources say that British Commissioner Neil Kinnock, in charge of the case, is likely to recommend to his colleagues that Cresson should appear before the European court. If she is found guilty she could lose part or all of her commission pension.  

Cresson, premier under President Mitterrand between 1991 and 1992, appeared before the European Union's 30-member executive last month for a one-hour closed-door hearing.  

"The Cresson affair will be one of the points discussed by the commission Monday afternoon," a spokesman said.  

One of Kinnock's staff said that the commission did not have the authority to judge Cresson, which was why the court had to be involved.  

"It is up to the court to establish if the facts are correct or not and the conclusions that might possibly have to be drawn from them," he said.  

"The commission is not the body that can decide if, yes or no, there has been a failure of duty. Only the court of justice can do so."  

The previous commission president Jacques Santer suffered withering attacks in the press and the European parliament after whistle-blower Paul Van Buitenen produced a dossier of corruption allegations.  

An independent inquiry by five 'wise men' cleared all the commissioners, some of whom are still serving in the current executive, of personal wrongdoing. But it said the commission lacked political responsibility, and the executive collectively resigned.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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