France sentences 99-year-old man in long-standing transplant case

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FRANCE: A former French energy boss, now 99, is tried on Monday along with others for corruption in a 2002 case that his lawyers call an abomination.
Jean Bonnefont is responsible for distorting the energy market to ensure the favorable award of a contract for the heating and air conditioning of the La Défense business district in Paris.
Former Eaux-Vivendi executive, Bernard Forterre, now 82, and businessman Antoine Benetti, 68, are accompanying Bonnefont, former manager of the Charbonnages de France mining company, also on trial at court of Nanterre, near Paris.

“It is impossible to understand that a man of 99 years is on trial,” said Olivier Baratelli, Bonnefont’s lawyer.

“Are you able to remember what you did twenty years ago with enough precision to make it subject to trial?” He asked.

Defense lawyers will initially argue that their clients’ rights to a trial within a reasonable time have been violated.

Bonnefont is accused of having ensured the award of a contract to a group called Enertherm which had the same shareholding structure as the former holder of the Climadef contract, a subsidiary of Charbonnages de France.
The offenses allegedly took place from 1999 to 2003, the first case having been opened in June 2002.

“The duration of this procedure was not in the interest of anyone”, recognized the Nanterre prosecutor Catherine Denis, adding that the time necessary for such a complex case is revealing of “insufficient means granted to economic and financial justice. “.

All those on trial deny the charges. They face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

The trial is scheduled to last until Friday.

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