Today starts the fourth trial of the case Bettencourt in Bordeaux. This case involves five journalists (from Mediapart and from Le Point) who have recorded the 93 year-old billionaire illegally with the help of her butler, Pascal Bonnefoy, between May 25th, 2009 and May 11th, 2010.
These recordings show that her wealth manager, Patrice de Maistre, took advantage of Liliane Bettencourt’s weakness and age to steal money from her. The object of the trial is also how the heiress of “l’Oréal” organized tax evasion of her property, and how she financed political parties. All these recordings have led to several other trials.
But, the interest of this fourth trial is somewhere else. Indeed, the common theme of this trial is: have the journalists violated Liliane Bettencourt’s private life on account of the publication of some extracts? For example, in 2013, the court ordered Mediapart to delete all the transcripts. If they did not abide by the decision, they were subject to a fine of 10,000 euros per day of violation. This is a unique decision in the history of web journalism, on which the European Court of Human Rights will have to decide.
At the end of this process, the defendants risk up to one year of prison and a fine of 45,000 euros.
Thomas RAVENEL, IEJ 3F.