The former French Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn, who had resigned in mid-February 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 epidemic, was indicted on Friday for “endangering the lives of others” because of her pandemic management.
Ms. Buzyn was indicted after her hearing by magistrates of the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), which is investigating the management of the epidemic.
The former minister is the first personality to be questioned in this vast dossier devoted to the way in which the French authorities anticipated and then managed the epidemic of coronavirus, which has killed at least 115,000 in the country, according to Public Health France.
Arriving shortly before 9 am at the seat of the Court, the only one empowered to judge ministers in the exercise of their functions, she left after more than nine hours of hearing without saying a word to the press.
“Today is an excellent opportunity for me to explain myself and set the record straight,” she declared on arrival.
“I will not let the government’s action, my action as Minister, while we have done so much to prepare our country for a global health crisis which, I remind you, still lasts,” added Ms. Buzyn.
Face au « tsunami »
At the very beginning of 2020, Ms Buzyn held a central role, at the head of the Ministry of Health.
As the world began to take fright at the alarming information coming from Wuhan, China, this trained hematologist spoke on January 24, 2020 to say: “the risks of the spread of the coronavirus in the population are very low”. Before specifying that this analysis could “evolve”.
In mid-February, she had left the government to run for mayor of Paris, replaced by Olivier Véran.
But a few days after her electoral defeat, while France was confined, she created an outcry by saying in the daily The world of March 17, 2020: “when I left the ministry, I cried because I knew that the tsunami wave was in front of us”.
“From the start, I only thought of one thing: the coronavirus. We should have stopped everything, it was a masquerade, ”she had again told the World about municipal elections.
Comments confirmed in June 2020 before the commission of inquiry of the National Assembly on the management of the health crisis: she had indicated to have alerted President Emmanuel Macron and the Prime Minister at the time, Edouard Philippe, in January on the potential “danger” of COVID-19.
Since then, the CJR has received many complaints related to COVID-19, “14,500” said the Attorney General at the Court of Cassation, François Molins on Wednesday.
Other ministers concerned
Lack of protective equipment for caregivers and the population or even mistakes on the need or not to wear masks: nine of these complaints were deemed admissible by the CJR’s complaints committee, which acts as a filter, and have allowed the opening of an investigation in July 2020.
Since then, other complaints have been deemed admissible and joined to the investigation, while searches were carried out in mid-October 2020 at the homes and offices of the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, of the former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. , Mrs Buzyn and another former member of the government, Sibeth Ndiaye.
The investigating committee of the CJR has opened its investigation into the offense of “abstaining from fighting a disaster”.
This major development could be followed by other invitations targeting current or past members of the executive, including MM. Véran and Philippe, and have a political impact for the majority while President Emmanuel Macron could seek re-election in spring 2022.
Asked Thursday about the convocation of Agnès Buzyn, the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, replied that “a head of government cannot comment on an ongoing judicial process”.
“We must at all costs avoid […] let paralysis lie in wait for the action of public authorities at a time when, on the contrary, decisions are needed to face crises, ”he added, however.
On Twitter, the deputy president of the party in power, La République en Marche, Aurore Bergé, estimated that the indictment of Ms. Buzyn created “a dangerous precedent”.
“If tomorrow a minister can be indicted [inculpé] for what he would not have done, not done enough, or done badly, then who qualifies the “bad” done? When ? On what assessment criteria? She wrote.