Rights group flays Sarkozy for teen murder comments
France's human rights league weighed into President Nicolas Sarkozy Saturday for comments on the murder of a teenage girl which has also angered the country's police and judges.
Magistrates' unions have called for courthouses across the country to go on strike until February 10 in protest at Sarkozy's claim that mistakes in the judiciary let a repeat offender allegedly kill and dismember the girl.
But the Human Rights League said the president had violated the legal presumption of innocence in assuming the guilt of suspect Tony Meilhon, 31, who is in custody but has yet to be tried.
"In any other democracy such behaviour would be considered incompatible with the exercise of political responsibilities at the highest level of the state," the league said.
It said it was not Sarkozy's first offence in this respect, referring to earlier comments about a case pending against political rival Dominique de Villepin and the assassination of a government official in Corsica.
The "deliberate and repeated violation of the separation of powers" called for Sarkozy to be tried for failure of his presidential duty under the constitution, it said.
A Paris court on Monday is to hand down a verdict against Sarkozy's Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux, who was accused by Ryad Hennouni, arrested on suspicion of plotting terror attacks but yet to face trial, of violating his presumption of innocence in calling him a "jihadist."
Hortefeux has already been found guilty of a similar offence, as well as of insulting the French Arab community. He has appealed in both cases.
© 2011 AFP