LuxLeaks Appeal trial:
After Antoine Deltour’s lawyers’ pleadings on December 21st, the trial resumed on Wednesday January 4th with Raphaël Halet’s lawyers’ pleadings, followed by the ones of journalist Édouard Perrin’s lawyers. As for each hearing, Antoine’s Support Committee was present in Luxembourg, coming from France by bus.
Pleadings of Raphael Halet’s defense
Today’s hearing begins with the pleadings of Raphaël Halet’s lawyer, Mr. Colin. Halet was convicted in first instance for having sent to the journalist Édouard Perrin 16 tax returns back in 2012. Mr. Colin start his pleading by providing elements to demonstrate the illegality of tax rulings practice in Luxembourg at the time of the LuxLeaks revelations. The lawyer accuses the Luxembourg State of maintaining on purpose a legislative loophole so that tax consulting firms could obtain extremely low tax rates for their clients. According to Colin, “it was PwC which created the tax rule”, with the approval of the Luxembourg administration in the person of Marius Kohl.
Mr Colin underlines the cynicism of this “active corruption”, affecting not only the European Union’s States but also developing countries. Colin goes on: “Without the whistleblowers, the system would have continued”. According to Colin, Raphaël Halet clearly “did his bit” and must be acquitted. The room applauds this incisive argument.
Halet’s defense goes on with Ms May Nalepa, who calls on the judges: “We are on the same side, that of democracy and the same rules for all”. The lawyer disputes –point by point– the charges alleged against her client under Luxembourg law. She then endeavors to justify Halet’s protection by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and says she “completely” joins Antoine’s lawyers on this point. Calling for the release of her client, Ms. Nalepa asks the judges to “have the courage to give him back his dignity”. New round of applause.
Pleadings of Édouard Perrin's defense
After a short pause, the hearing resumes with the journalist Édouard Perrin defense arguments. He is accused of having played an active role in Halet’s documents leak. Ms. Christel Hénon points out the irony of this appeal trial for the journalist: “The prosecutor recognizes the freedom of the press and Mr. Perrin’s right to inform, alleluia!”. Then, she emphasises the legitimate –not conspirative– use of the “email dead drop”, so that the journalist can securely exchange with his source. For the lawyer, her client “did an exceptional journalism work”.
The hearing ends with the pleading of Mr. Olivier Chappuis, also defending Édouard Perrin. Chappuis insists on his client protection under the principles of freedom of speech and right to inform. The lawyer also stresses that “tax evasion is a matter of general interest of exceptional intensity”. After mentioning a few “gems” contained in the documents sent to the journalist, Mr. Chappuis concludes: “Not acquitting Édouard Perrin is dissuading another Perrin. You will have to acquit him”. And he adds: “Mr. Perrin also pays here tribute to the courage of the whistleblowers Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet”. The room applauds one last time.
To be continued and concluded on Monday January 9th
The appeal trial will continue for a final hearing on Monday, January 9th, 3pm. The hearing will begin with the reply of prosecutor John Petry and then of the plaintiff (PwC), followed by the respective replies of the defendants. The date of deliberation should be announced at the end of this last hearing.
As usual, the Support Committee will set up bus transportation from French cities of Épinal, Nancy and Metz. We will be there to support the defendants!