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Macron attacked in court for racketeering and violence by Yellow Vest

French police had to dig deep into the Fifth Republic's Constitution after a Yellow Vest filed a complaint against President Emmanuel Macron.

Published: November 27, 2018, 8:31 am

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    Uncertain as to the validity of such a complaint, police officers first had to consult the Constitution before they eventually recorded the charge.

    It is a complaint that will cause a stir and encourage other Yellow Vest protesters to do the same. As regional daily Ouest-France reported on Monday, November 26, a member of the grassroots movement against Macron’s fuel tax hikes, from Saint-Malo (Ille-et-Vilaine) went to the police station in town to file a complaint against the head of state and his government.

    After the violent clashes between protesters and police on Sunday on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, the Yellow Vest supporter who filed the charge, has been able to extend the list of ills he blames on the President of the Republic and the government.

    But first, he had to convince the police of the merits of his approach. “They had never seen that. The police went looking in the code of the Constitution to see if it was possible,” he explained, laughing. Eventually, law enforcement noted the charge.

    Emmanuel Macron and his ministers have therefore been charged with “racketeering, squandering of public money, moral damage and endangering the lives of others, intentional violence with weapons, misuse of the police on vulnerable people and infringement of the right of demonstration”.

    The brave Yellow Vest believes his accusations are all well founded. “On a video, we saw older protesters being abused, while the movement of Yellow Vests is a pacifist one and we are not vandals,” he says.

    He hopes to obtain the resignation of Emmanuel Macron and his government. But “for it to rise to the highest level of the state”, he relies on other collectives to emulate in his approach.

    Another 29-year-old Yellow Vest who lives in the Charente, filed a similar kind of complaint for “usurpation of function and embezzlement of public funds,” reported the newspaper Sud Ouest.

    She believes that the institutions of the Fifth Republic have been illegal since a certain decree published by a former Minister Manuel Valls in 2016. But this argument has been dismissed as “fake news”.

    The decree by Valls called for a general inspectorate of justice, under the supervision of the Ministry and charged with assessing “the activity, functioning and performance of the courts”. But the decree provoked a huge uproar in France. The Court of Cassation, the highest court of the French judiciary, denounced it in a letter to the Prime Minister.

    The fact that the “supreme court of the judiciary [is] under the direct control of the government […] breaks with the republican tradition observed until today” the authors of the letter pointed out.

    And indeed, another institution, the Council of State, finally canceled the decree in March 2018, on the grounds that it did not respect the independence of the Court of Cassation. Rumours of the “end of the Constitution” have nevertheless continued and may even help Macron defend unpopular new laws to clamp down on information circulating on social media.

    The French National Assembly has approved two laws to crack down on information during election campaigns, despite criticism from the opposition and free speech activists.

    Macron promised the censorship law earlier this year amid widespread concern in Western Europe that immigration policies are boosting the rise of sovereignist parties.

    The new laws will empower judges ahead of elections to order internet firms to remove “incorrect or misleading allegations or accusations” that are likely to influence the outcome of the vote.

    Internet firms over a certain size will also have to reveal any information about advertisers promoting content in the sphere of public debate.

    Broadcasting authorities will have far reaching powers ban radio or television stations that are owned or influenced by foreign governments.

    The French government has been accused by right and leftwing opponents of trying to create a form of “thought police” and censorship. Marine Le Pen has argued that it will be used “as a basis for real political censorship” in France, as the government prepares for next year’s European parliament elections.

    She tweeted earlier this year that with the “fake news” bill “the most essential values embodied in our Constitution and the values of democracy will be violated!”

    Constance Le Grip of Les Républicains called the law “useless, redundant, inadequate, dangerous, an attack on freedom of expression, badly written and only raises concerns instead of bringing solutions”.

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