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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Sylvie Andrieux - the French politician who remains innocent of embezzlement after being found guilty

Politicians - don't you just love 'em.

Somehow they just don't seem to be bound by the same rules as the rest of us.

At least it seems that way some of the time.

Take the case of two Socialist party members - Sylvie Andrieux and Harlem Désir

She has been a member of parliament for a Marseille (you can stick an "s" on the end of that if you wish, if you're reading this out loud in English) constituency for the past 16 years.

He has been a member of the European parliament since 1999 and also first secretary (to all intents and purposes, leader) of the party since October 2012.

So they're both seasoned politicians - right?

Sylvie Andrieux (screenshot from LCM report on opening of trial, March 2013)

On Wednesday, a court found Andrieux guilty of misappropriating public money - otherwise known as embezzlement to the rest of us - and was given a three year prison sentence with two of them suspended, as well as being fined €100,000 and being banned from holding public office for five years.

Not bad going for a politician who was elected to serve a fourth term in last year's parliamentary elections even though she was under investigation at the time.

The conviction means she's supposed to spend a year behind bars.

Except of course Andrieux is to appeal the ruling and, as such, is apparently still considered under French law to be innocent.

Huh?

Anyway, the news was enough to have Désir come out guns a-blazin' as he took refuge in the party's rules and regulations to deliver what can only be described as the weakest of responses.

Harlem Désir (screenshot from BFM TV interview March 2013)

"Following her conviction, Sylvie Andrieux will have to leave the party until the appeal process has run its course," he said.

"If she doesn't, I'll suggest to the National Office of the party (er...wouldn't that include your good self M Désir?) that, as required by the code of ethics adopted at our party congress last year in Toulouse, she be suspended until the outcome of the appeal.

Strong words indeed and a perfect example of leadership qualities.

Anyone fancy Désir to be the country's next president?

Sheesh.

Come on M. Desir.

Show some cojones.

Just sack the woman!

Even though Andrieux has said she won't be standing in next year's local elections, she still has her seat in parliament.

And before you start thinking that a conviction of any sort marks the end of her of political career, consider this.

Back in 1998 a former head of the anti-racist group SOS-Racisme was given an 18-month suspended sentence and fined 30,000 after being found guilty of having misused corporate assets to receive a "fictional" salary.

And that man was...you've guessed it.

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