The Hotel de Brienne and the Quai d’Orsay would have rejected the request for declassification of documents related to the Rafale contract in India. The lawyers of the NGO Sherpa denounce an instrumentalization of defense secrecy.
New episode in the Mediapart “Rafale Papers” saga. On September 14, the French investigative media added a section to its river investigation behind the scenes of the sale of 36 Rafales in India in September 2016. A mega-contract, signed under the mandate of François Hollande, which amounts to no less than 7.8 billion euros.
According to Mediapart, the two investigating judges in charge of the investigation would have received in June an end of inadmissibility from the French authorities, following their request to the Ministries of the Armed Forces and Foreign Affairs to declassify the documents. related to negotiations. Refusal itself motivated by two unfavorable opinions, from the National Defense Secret Commission (CSDN), to the declassification of these documents.
A refusal “difficult to understand on the merits”, estimates the media, which “resembles a new attempt to slow down the investigation into this state affair, likely to involve François Hollande, his successor Emmanuel Macron […] as well as their former minister Jean-Yves Le Drian,” he continues.
For the lawyers of Sherpa, an anti-corruption NGO which since the fall of 2018 has been leading the legal charge against the French government, the secret-defense would thus be “instrumentalised”. “Secrecy-defense is once again used as a cover to protect personal interests and ensure the impunity of the greatest public or private officials united in the same fraudulent inter-self” fulminate lawyers William Bourdon and Vincent Brengarth to Mediapart.
The “instrumentalized” defense secret, according to the complainants
It was following the revelations of Mediapart, at the end of September 2018, that Sherpa looked into this juicy contract signed between Paris and New Delhi. Revelations, or more exactly confidences of François Hollande. Contacted by the editorial staff of Edwy Plenel, the ex-president confirms that a co-production by his companion Julie Gayet has received funding from a certain Anil Ambani. Problem, the latter is none other than the CEO of the Reliance group, Indian partner of Dassault Aviation in the Rafale contract. It was enough to set fire to the powder.
These words abound in the direction of the Indian press, which had revealed the affair a few weeks earlier. On the political level, the opposition to the Modi government castigates a “swindle” since the announcement of the signing of the contract with Paris, in particular with regard to the unit price of the hunters sold to their country.
With the words of the former tenant of the Elysée, the case quickly takes an international and judicial turn. In the wake of Mediapart’s publication, Sherpa sends a report to the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) denouncing possible acts of “corruption” on this Rafale contract. In June 2019, the case was dismissed by the then PNF prosecutor: Eliane Houlette.
Dassault raided several times
Here is “buried”, in the eyes of Mediapart, a potential “state affair” which splashes two presidents of the Republic. The media then multiplied the investigations and the revelations, on the basis of which Sherpa filed a new complaint at the end of April 2021 with the Paris court. In mid-June of the same year, a judicial investigation for “corruption” and “favoritism” was opened by the PNF.
It is within the framework of this procedure that the examining magistrates, Virginie Tilmont and Pascal Gastineau, demanded from the Ministry of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the documents covered by the defense secret… before being dismissed.
Is the case deadlocked? Clearly not, according to Mediapart, according to whom the investigation is “accelerating”: the media points to the fact that Dassault Aviation was, last February, “discreetly” raided several times by the police of the OCLCIFF, the anti-corruption office of the judicial police.