LuxLeaks Appeal trial:
Third hearing

On Wednesday December 21st, more than fifty citizens came (once again!) to support Antoine and the other defendants for the third hearing of the LuxLeaks appeal trial. Support goes on!

Group photo of the people who came with the Support committee’s bus, behind a banner “I support Antoine” (in French)
© Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour – CC BY-SA 4.0

Plaintiff’s arguments

The third hearing begins with the pleadings of Mr Hansen, representing the plaintiff (PwC Luxembourg, former employer of Antoine). Mr Hansen gave an unsurprising speech, sometimes repeating almost word for word his first trial’s pleading. Mr Hansen considers the whistleblower’s role underlined by the defense as an “ex post facto invention”.

Regarding the criteria established by the European Court of Human Rights, Mr Hansen first disputes Antoine’s good faith and states that he “opportunistically” copied the documents to “loot PwC’s know-how” in “his private interest”! Hansen insists on the damage caused to PwC by “a serious breach of professional secrecy”, however without providing any hint on the extent on this damage. Finally, considering the principle of subsidiarity, Hansen accuses Antoine of having disclosed the documents without precaution, “en bloc, searching for sensationalism”…

The tone is also very accusatory towards Raphaël Halet. Mr Hansen accuses him of initially wanting to play the “detective” in order to identify Antoine, before declaring himself a whistleblower. Hansen also challenges the collective interest of Halet’s disclosures -several tax declarations- despite their usefulness in judging the effectiveness of tax rulings.

The plaintiff’s lawyers, sitting in the courtroom (photo taken during the first trial)
© Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour – CC BY-SA 4.0

Pleadings of Antoine’s first lawyer, Mr Penning

As soon as he starts his pleadings, Mr Penning calls on Luxembourg’s collective conscience. According to Penning, Antoine’s reputation is not always positive in Luxembourg, and this is mainly because “we do not want to be forced to think about ourselves”. Then, Penning draws a glowing portrait of Antoine who, “without making a fuss, in all modesty, just comes to ring the alarm bell”. Penning calls for “an acquittal all along”. Mr Penning highlights Antoine's numerous moral supports, as well as his multiple awards, including the 2015 European Citizen’s Prize.

Concerning the damage caused, Penning ironically compares the symbolic euro claimed by PwC to the hundreds of billions Euros missing yearly from the European States budgets!

Antoine and his lawyer Mr Penning chatting in the courtroom, big files on the table before them
© Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour – CC BY-SA 4.0

Pleadings of Antoine’s second lawyer, Mr Bourdon

After a short suspension of the hearing, Mr. Bourdon begins his pleading by imagining that, in a future “whistleblower’s encyclopedia”, “the name of Antoine Deltour will be written in golden letters”. The Parisian lawyer sees only one “decision that would be right in law: acquittal”. He then strongly tackles the plaintiff and denounces its “nerve” and its “audacity” not to evaluate the damage; then, he tells the judges: “They’re making a fool of you!”. Mr Bourdon calls for the judge’s vigilance regarding the “perverse effect” resulting from “sacralizing professional secrecy”: if Antoine Deltour is convicted, no whistleblower will be ever protected in Luxembourg.

Bourdon then methodically thwarts the prosecutor’s arguments, which he describes as a “judicial tinkering”. Quoting precisely the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, he denounces the “imaginary” criteria of John Petry’s indictment. For instance, the “instantaneity” of the whistleblower’s approach is absolutely not required; the criterion of good faith is clearly respected for Antoine who acted “out of conviction”, with “perfect intellectual honesty”. Mr Bourdon denies that the whistleblowers’ protection is subject to any prudential obligation; he recalled that –according to the journalist Édouard Perrin himself– only the massive and nominative nature of the documents could serve the general interest. Turning to the principle of proportionality, he recalled that professional secrecy can’t “serve turpitude” compared to a much greater public interest. Bourdon refutes any financial damage, as PwC increased its turnover and had a record year after the LuxLeaks revelations, according to one of its own managers!

Finally, Mr Bourdon requested the judges to acquit Antoine and predicted “the honor of the Luxembourg justice, the honor of European justice”. The courtroom’s audience applauded at length.

Antoine and his lawyers, Mr Penning et Mr Bourdon, chatting after the hearing, in the hall of the Court's building
© Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour – CC BY-SA 4.0

Next steps in January!

In the end, two additional hearings are planned for next year:

Antoine’s Support Committee will certainly organize again a collective transportation from Lorraine (France). Wherever you are, we count on you to come and support the defendants!

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