Belgian court drops Cresson fraud case
30 June 2004
BRUSSELS – A Belgian court on Wednesday dropped all charges against the former French prime minister Edith Cresson in connection to a fraud scandal that led to the resignation of the entire European Commission in 1999.
Court officials told French news agency AFP that there were “no grounds for prosecution” of Cresson, who served as the European commissioner for education and research from 1994 to 1999.
Cresson, who was French prime minister between 1991 and 1992, welcomed the decision.
“I have been waiting for this day for five years,” she said.
“The court has recognized that there was no case to be made against me or my collaborators,” she added.
The court’s widely anticipate decision followed an announcement by Belgian prosecutors on Tuesday that they no longer believed there were grounds to investigate Cresson on the fraud charges.
The European Commission is still carrying on an internal investigation into whether or not Cresson broke the institution’s own rules of conduct when she served as a Commissioner.
Cresson was set to answer questions about the 1999 scandal from all 30 EU Commissioners at a behind-closed-doors session on Wednesday.
One of the main allegations against Cresson is that she created a fictitious job for her aide and former dentist, a man called Rene Berthelot.
She was also accused of helping a French firm secure work running one of the EU programmes she was ultimately in charge of.
The allegations against Cresson set off a chain of events that led the European Commission, headed at that time by former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jacques Santer, to resign en masse.
Most analysts say the resignation was a case of the Commissioners jumping before they were pushed.
If they had not gone of their own accord, the European Parliament would almost certainly have sacked them, experts argue.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news