PARIS (Reuters) – France’s top appeals court on Friday threw out a judicial investigation into alleged negligence by former health minister Agnes Buzyn in her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Buzyn, health minister from May 2017 to February 2020, stepped down just after the start of the pandemic to run for mayor of Paris although she failed to get elected.
The French government’s response during the first months of the pandemic came under fire from the public, with accusations Buzyn had put people’s lives at risk by not adequately communicating the dangers of the COVID-19 virus, amongst others.
Buzyn has denied being guilty of negligence in her handling of the crisis.
In Sept. 2021, complaints against Buzyn from the public triggered an investigation into her handling of the pandemic by the Cour de Justice de La Republique, a special court that deals with cases brought against government officials.
Ruling on a legal challenge brought by Buzyn against the investigation, the Cour de Cassation said the investigative committee had failed to provide references to any legislation that would allow it to conclude there was a particular duty of care Buzyn could have violated.
“The offence of endangering others can only be charged against a person if a law or regulation imposes a particular duty of care or safety,” the court said, adding that investigators failed to demonstrate such an obligation with regard to the minister.
Buzyn did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.
France is “the only country in the world” where, as a result of wide-ranging procedural laws, it was possible to single out and prosecute a government minister amid a global health crisis, Buzyn said in a recent interview.
Critics of the government had said the preparation to deal with the health crisis had been insufficient. Many had filed legal complaints, which ultimately triggered the probe against Buzyn.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, editing by Tassilo Hummel and Raissa Kasolowsky)
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