French ex-PM, health ministers to face judicial virus response probe

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Paris, July 7 (BNA): French judges are to probe criminal complaints about the way in which former prime minister Edouard Philippe and two health ministers handled the Covid-19 crisis, a prosecutor said on Tuesday.


The investigative committee of three judges will look into one charge of failing to combat a disaster, Prosecutor General Francois Molins said in a statement, said dpa.


If Philippe, Health Minister Olivier Veran, or Veran's predecessor Agnes Buzyn are sent for trial, they will face a special court made up of three professional judges and 12 members of parliament that tries alleged offences by ministers in the course of their duties.


France was hard hit by the Covid-19 epidemic, with just short of 30,000 deaths recorded as of Monday. The country underwent a strict lockdown between mid-March and mid-May and is now bracing for the economic fallout.


Paris prosecutors last month opened a separate preliminary investigation after receiving 62 complaints about failings by other decision makers and official bodies during the epidemic.


Those complaints, some of them from trade unions, alleged offences such as endangering lives, failure to assist persons in danger, and involuntary manslaughter or injury, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said at the time.