the fight is not over
|The twenty-first of May 1997 has arrived, the time of the meeting too. The councillors enter, those of the team Dutoit seem disillusioned!
And in the meantime, everyone takes place around the council table.
-- Well, all councillors are present, I declare the meeting open.
Clementine Fachaud asks for the floor:
-- But yes, Clementine, go ahead.
-- And that’s it… as we voted, I have brought food to cook for the poor. This time, as it should not be long, it's eggs. I will bring them to a family in need after the meeting.
Clementine rises, approaching the sink, near the door, has out of her supermarket bag the municipal casserole she washed at home instead of have this done here, and she fills it with water . She then places the casserole on the gas, she ignites. Jean-Sébastien prefers to say nothing. She waits three minutes that water boils and then she plunges the eggs.
This work completed, and despite the absence of any public, she regains her place.
-- That's it, Lucien, I thank you, it's up to you.
-- The quorum is reached. Is there one volunteer to hold the meeting secretariat?
This is Clementine, the prison screw which is definitely a very active woman. She wonders how she can make so much, at this rate!
-- Thank you, Clementine, thank you!
Christophe asks at once:
-- Can you explain what the second convocation for damages this means? We have already voted on this and it seems to me that the debate has not been cancelled…
-- Yes, but you did not agree that you have filed a complaint when you're gone refer the matter to court, in March the twenty-ninth, 1996.
-- Who does inform you? I never made confidences to you!
-- Well, if you are told that you did not complain, what do you want, the hell! You are not obliged to vote this time! Well, that’s enough, we vote! Except the ones that voting bothers, of course!
Seven hands rise. The proposal is accepted! And the meeting is over!
Clementine rushes to add :
-- And I'll drain the door before people leave.
Then, the small casserole of eggs for the poor by hand, she waits until the last leaves the corridor outside and then closes the light and the door locked.
Christophe believed that it would be difficult for Grease to recover his report before the day of the criminal hearing on the disorders afflicting the roof of the hall. This fear was most likely shared by the prefecture and justice because it would be a more uncomfortable situation the criminal justice system would begin by saying that Basseville-on-Earth has suffered no prejudice to be denied by the administrative justice, which would prove the contrary! This is only half a surprise to learn that the expertise ordered by the Administrative Justice has been the subject of a final report and that it is deposited since May the twenty-fifth. It is very recent.
The content does not surprise Christophe, who found roughly what was said at the second meeting of expertise, fourteen months ago. Thus he read again that "everyone worked well, the standards and DTU have been met, there is no reproach to make Anquetot nor the architect and Basseville - on-Earth has not suffered any damages. "
The solution that has been decide to repair is the following: after strengthening the frame, the expert calls for a recovery in steel plates with a wave height of three and a half centimetres against two and a half now. It will also provide greater length of superimposition and waterproof gaskets. Christophe has understood that Grease was convinced that this solution could not work because the plates would not mould to the shape of the frame, meaning that the plates with a height of waves that would be even greater would make the cold bending on the spot even less efficient to fit the curvature of the frame.
They would more or less come back to their original flat position, raising at each end. The gaskets will be almost inefficient! Grease has therefore chosen to retain the bitumen solution which would surely show even more disadvantages than the steel plates.
Christophe has not forgotten, however, that the expert has always refused to verify the structure, these vertical pipes, these walls above the concrete base, moving in the wind and make the frame on which they are based move at its top. A check for that would undoubtedly have been so rich in lessons for the frame. On this side again, there might have bad surprises!
But Christophe jumps when he reads that the expert claims the merit of having decided on its own, spontaneously, to check the frame:
-- Ah! The twisted!
Grease, he thought until now was a nice chap, almost the antithesis of Pifon, explains that after the second meeting, he saw as a necessity to verify the frame! As though Mr Haro had not sent an official note in May last year, ordering him to check both the frame and structure!
But Christophe begins to laugh: this official note of Mr Haro, Grease mentioned it in his three or four successive notes, in the paragraph where he listed the documents he undertook to join to his final report, and then one fine day, it was no more question of this official note! It shows when the decision to censor the note of Mr Haro was taken! And doubtless also was when the decision not to check the structure was taken. It comes close to the concealment of evidence!
Christophe decides to type a new note to his colleagues in the opposition, so that they can share the main points of Grease’s report consider seeking a second opinion about the hall disorders. Then he reminds his colleagues that the criminal hearing is in two days and that this would be good to go as much as possible, to see if Pifon applies well their deliberation and if he takes account of the mail they all signed detailing what they wanted him to say, first of all ask for a postponement to wait for the result of the contest of the secret ballot deliberation pending at the administrative court, secondly asking that the criminal court then gives them time to take a lawyer and to study the case with him. If the court refuses this report, they request Pifon to claim, under the prejudice suffered, such sum against such and such defendants.
That's it. It is the third in June 1997, the date that appeared on the minutes given by police to the second Pifon. The weather is quite but not that warm. The courtroom is full of people. The court is announced, the attendance rises. The judges sit, everybody sits after them. And the president takes the floor. Some cases are known: the first poor guy, not a swine, will sleep tonight in prison. He should not have mates in the prefecture. By the way, he has no lawyer. Like us! It should make us tremble! Then the case " Prosecutor against Boutel Adrien, Andrew Anquetot, Mathurin Archibald” (and company) is called. We would have liked Basseville is in the coup, but since the prefect and his henchman have decided to the contrary, the city must remain mute! Jean-Sébastien, in particular, finds the pill hard to swallow.
The defendants stand, their lawyers also: That starts to be a bunch of people, they must occupy three benches ... As we are thoughtful, we did not notice. The lawyer of Boutel, Mr Grand Guignaux, begins to spread the prosecutor and the court, with an "off" voice that still can be heard from the bottom of the room, his service record. And he has been given so many titles! He knows administration, in the broad sense (that is to say not only judicial) and who knows to make clear that he is mature for trial even if counterfeit, of course, elegance forbids him to be too explicit. Without doubt, to be more in harmony with his look of bandit, he catches up by declaring that the case of Christophe Potteur is psychiatry ...
The president asks straightaway:
-- Does Basseville-on-earth claim for damages? Mr Mayor?
The president seeks Pifon eyes.
-- No! Pifon answers, as he rises and bring him the letter that Christophe’s team wrote him. And the president, with a big smile:
-- You're right, Mr. Mayor, because to claim damages, your town should have suffered an injury! Is it the look of contempt of Jean-Sébastien?
It is a foregone conclusion, Christophe thinks. The president has not yet heard anyone and he already talks like Grease: Basseville-on-Earth has suffered no prejudice! Christophe feels caught in something totalitarian: even justice takes part in this real whopper or outrageous lie!
Then Mr Grand Guignaux calls for Boutel. Curiously, he hardly gets onto the case, does not care about whether there has been tenders, which would prohibit any communication of a competitor’s price to another, or transact contracts, which would make compulsory communication of price and supply each other competitor for the same lot.
No: Mr Grand Guignaux explains that his client deserved a medal because he has served his fellow citizens for forty years. Instead of receiving the medal he deserves, he was left under an obligation to defend itself!
-- But he is stuffed, mutters Christophe to Marion who is sitting right beside him.
The president then gives the floor to Boutel and asks him, what was the nature of the contracts. In his falsetto voice so characteristic, Boutel responds:
-- Transact contracts, Mr. President.
-- Thank you, sir. So there were transact contacts…
The exchange lasts a little, Boutel is then invited to take place on his bench and the debate continues with each other defendants in the order of the case. All have an opportunity to confirm what Boutel said. The President has finished. His satisfaction is obvious. The two other judges have broad smiles.
The prosecutor rises. He can not begin. He looks at his papers before him and seems not to see them. He is literally standing ko. Contrary to what he said a little over a year ago, he says that Christophe has complained. That may be what it means: "The speech is free." The pen is less free, it seems, and the judgement will only say that a complaint was filed on March the 29th, 1996. Then the prosecutor requires: one year prison sentence, one hundred thousand francs in fines, five years of ineligibility for each. The style of the text is assured, the tone of voice much less! He wrote it all before hearing what he has heard ...
Why stay? We saw the obvious partisan objective the chairman has, we saw their three hilarious faces, of him and the other two.
"Basseville-on-Earth has not suffered any injury". Christophe, Jean-Sébastien, his wife and Marion leave revolted. The judgment hearing is set for September the 30th...
Two days later, the fifth of June, supporters of Pifon, Anquetot and others gather in the multipurpose hall: they have drafted and distributed leaflets that anonymously call to mobilize against claiming a counter valuation. True, Christophe made no secret that he challenges the work of Grease and that he does not renounce the verification of the structure, which design is surely bad. He saw that the real conviction of the expert before he changed mind without explanation, and even afterwards, was that the hall was not repairable! He will do everything so that the administrative court rejects the work of its expert. So his opponents ensuring in their anonymous tract, that a solution is proposed, things should stop there, and the hall should be repaired.
And the same text appears in the newspaper, always without any signature although everybody knows very precisely which municipal employee is at the root! As the day when municipal councillors should vote to take a lawyer in the criminal case has arrived, a small crowd gathers but on a scale ten or twenty times bigger. To the great displeasure of some participants who will recognize themselves, the newspaper will publish tomorrow a photo showing a portion of assistance: we see that many are standing and that the place seems to be missing! This is when the decision to launch a petition against the counter-valuation is taken!
If the idea of Pifon and Clementine to hold a referendum had been accepted in Council, it would have been easier!
Volunteers will be sent in the villages to gather signatures of opponents, especially in homes awaiting assistance, of food or anything else from the council or by the way. And then, who will verify that the signatories are domiciled in Basseville-on-Earth, that they are major? and that they exist? Thus, in meeting consultancy, Pifon will report on this petition to the initiative which he claims not to be involved in and who have collected four hundred and fifty signatures, well more than half the number of registered voters.
this travesty of justice gives a lot of value to something that, legally, has none and who would surely have given a very different result if the minimum principles were respected. These guys would never have invented the voting booth!
A new summer past. No specific incident to report, outside the masquerade referendum. The group Dutoit has not met since Christophe distributed his last note to reflect what had happened to the criminal court and confirm that he had requested a second opinion against the administrative court. He went to his colleagues’ homes to deliver an envelope each with a latest point on the floor and then, that's all.
Today, a letter from the prefecture arrived at the town hall for Christophe. It is dated of September the 2nd, 1997. Christophe is going to look at it and bring it back. Without great alacrity, he reads. That is from the secretary general. He responds to a recent request by Christophe and had to rethink their approach on November the 20th last year! The first page is nothing much new. The second, against, contains a paragraph that Christophe reads several times.
It states that "the prefecture has not received any document relating to potential transact-contracts that would have replaced the restricted bidding process initiated by the city of Basseville-on-Earth for the construction of the multipurpose hall. "
But the secretary general does not go so far as to say plainly that there has been biddings and not transact-contracts. He admits as something quite conceivable that the procedure actually committed may not match the record that the council has sent to the prefecture! This indicates the complicity or at least compromise! This is not good but at least it clarifies things:
Christophe had seen on acts of commitment and deliberation of September the 25th, 1992 there were calls for tenders, but he kept a doubt, up to now because of this letter stating that the architect 'was awarded they were now in the framework of transact-contracts, even if he did not release any pricing information but merely ask a commercial discount of five per cent… And there was also this long article in the weekly local were Boutel claimed that there had been transact-markets… and that it was raining in all halls!
After receiving the letter of the prefecture, the normal routine resumes. On September the 15th, 1997, at about eleven o'clock, the time that was appointed with Pifon, an employee of "Mathurin Security Consultants" arrives at the hall which as all facilities that may endanger public safety, and God knows if this is the case with "the work of solidarity with the people suffering in Africa" must undergo its annual technical inspection.
The council renewed its confidence in the Cabinet "Mathurin Security Consultants." Finally, let's be more precise. Mathurin was absent this day in 1993 when, during a meeting, the board has awarded the contract. So Anquetot had stipulated in the contract that it is tacitly renewable annually. "Tactical" renewal, he said, wanting to show the extent of his vocabulary. When so much under par!
Today, for the fourth audit by the company which employs him, the collaborator of Mathurin notes that the opening mechanism works well, without the slightest noise, since the mechanism was lubricated two years ago. Mr Mathurin delivers a progress report without any particular request because from the side of mechanics like from the side of electronics, everything works, including the lawnmower on-board electronics. If the road-mender fell into the work, but there is still no precedent for this type of accident in France, the mayor would be protected.
Two weeks later, Christophe and his team await the judgement of the criminal court. Time continues to go on: meeting of the council or not is irrelevant to the opposition, which has given up. The team of Pifon manages things alone. They have only to be all present if they want a quorum! The Commission of the room, indeed, is dormant.
Christophe could perhaps still find one or two things to be done for the hall but they have no heart for this. However, the day of the trial for crimes committed at the public contracts of the multipurpose hall has arrived.
He was not in court when the decision was made but Marion, Jean-Michel and Sebastian were there. And they have witnessed the triumph of Boutel and others. several years after Christophe still will think of this as if it had happened the day before.
In a judgement of September the 30th, which bears the number 872, the criminal court acquits all accused of yesterday, lead author and receivers! The judges, whose hilarious faces of the third of June come to mind to Christophe, felt that there was no crime and that they were prescribed. It is written in the judgement he asked the court in joining sixty francs in revenue stamps.
It is a judgement which, if it is not broken, allows offenders to sue for defamation. Christophe has the feeling that a trap which he was unaware of the existence closes on him. Michel Deval had reason not to vote on the complaint, on March the 26th, 1996! His colleagues found him a chicken, they thought that his vision of justice corresponded to what happens in totalitarian countries, and here we are! It is with us and now that it happens! We just have to hope that the prosecutor will appeal.
The days pass, it seems that there will be no appeal. Ironically timetable, the administrative tribunal, in the audience who, like the criminal hearing, held on the thirteenth of September 1997, the government commissioner requires that the secret ballot of December the sixth, 1996 is cancelled. Neat, we will be able to take a lawyer. Too bad, the case is tried in the sense that the prefecture wanted and its meaning is quite remote from the idea we share on justice!
Republic-5, Chapter 9
The same October the tenth, 1997, while the prosecutor has appealed, Christophe finds that the administrative procedure for defects has run its course: the administrative court made the decision as to causes of the disorder afflicting the multipurpose hall. He comes at the town hall read this decision, which begins by saying that "Mr. Potteur’s request is rejected," and then divides responsibilities between companies, the architect and ... Basseville-on-Earth because, for the administrative court, there is a breach of trust from the town and it earned Basseville ten percent of the note at its own expense. Of course, we will not submit the bill to be elected at that time!
On October the 30th, 1997, almost three weeks after prosecutors appealed against the decision of the criminal court, the City Council of Basseville-on-Earth holds a new meeting. It must deal with different issues, neither of which attracts the small screeching crowd of supporters of the majority. This time, therefore, the public is sparser and the small size of the place available to the right of the door when you enter, explains this without any doubt. Among the majority, all are there except Séverine Boutant and Charline Brack. From the opposition, only Michel Deval and Jean-Sébastien Billard are there.
There are eight present, not counting the powers given by absent from the majority.
-- Well, all councillors are present, I declare the meeting open.
Clementine Fachaud asks for the floor:
-- But yes, Clementine, go ahead replies Pifon according to the established ritual.
-- But yes, Clementine, go for it, Jean-Sébastien apes under the disapproving eyes of his opponents.
Without seeming the slightest choked, Clementine continues:
-- And that’s it… as we voted, I have brought food to cook for the poor, this time it's carrots. I will bring them to a family in need after the meeting.
Clementine rises, approaches the sink, near the door, has out of her supermarket bag a casserole which she washed at home when she could have done here. She fills the casserole with water and throws a little salt, she then place it on the gas, she ignites. She waits three minutes, that water boils and then she dips carrots she had the delicacy of peel and cut into small pieces at home before the meeting. The work completed under the eyes of an audience that you could count on one hand’s fingers if it were worth counting.
-- That's it, Lucien, I thank you, it's up to you.
-- That's it, Lucien, I thank you, it's up to you. This time, Jean-Sébastien apes her.
-- The quorum is reached, I declare the meeting open. Who wants to be secretary of the meeting? You, Julien? Thank you, thank you.
Then Pifon, with a smile that says nothing good to Jean-Sébastien says:
-- we first will deliberate on the multipurpose hall. The administrative court has ruled, we can begin work.
Jean-Sébastien Billard reacts immediately:
-- Mayor, this issue is not on the convocation! You must follow the agenda that you have written on the convocation that we received! There is no long as I'm member of the council but I am sure that in Basseville we never saw such a behaviour, even in the time of Boutel!
-- Never mind, we discuss the repairs of the hall.
Jean-Sébastien can not put up with this. He gets up and points at Pifon:
-- It is illegal, there not even a quorum for matters concerning the multipurpose hall.
-- So! This is new. It is indeed eight, a quorum? And how much are we, you think, tonight?
-- Tonight, six can be counted in the quorum: Mathurin and gentlemen Anquetot are concerned, one does not count them!
-- But then, if you do not count us, there is not fifteen advisers but ...
Jean-Sébastien does not let him finish:
-- You do not count in the actual present, but you must be counted as an adviser: Basseville-on-Earth has fifteen advisers, a quorum is eight, which means there must be eight not concerned councillors present for the deliberations can be taken properly, at least at the first reunion on a specific issue!
-- It comes out of thin air?!
Jean-Sébastien does not hear, he said what he had to say on this issue.
Pifon sums up as he can the decision of the administrative court. Michel Deval denounces the fact that the expert made a decision against his conviction, which was that the hall was not repairable. Anquetot refuses to reconsider the moral integrity of Grease,:
-- No, it's a good guy, Grease, he belongs to a good family, his shoes are always Big Lenfer." And it is very expensive, Big Lenfers.
Pifon is dazzled by the subtlety of observation and he decides to go to vote. The proposal wins six votes against two.
Jean-Sébastien comments immediately:
-- I will ask the robins of the prefecture refuse this debate and, if the Secretary-General refuses, I will refer this matter to the administrative court.
In the week following the sending of Jean-Sébastien’s letter of, prefecture will invite the mayor to vote again on the repair works for the hall.
The rest of the agenda is handled, we would better say "the agenda is dealt with”, given that the first question was not included. Then come, as always, miscellaneous. That time, the agenda seems exhausted, a slightly sweet smell begins to float in the room. Jean-Sébastien, who is shrewd, smiles. Pifon is getting ready to declare the meeting over when Clementine takes the floor:
-- Lucien did not address an important topic: Basseville-on-Earth will be honoured, a rare distinction. Our former mayor, Adrien Boutel, will receive the National Order of Merit!
-- What! Jean-Sébastien Billard and Michel Deval threaten choke, Clementine continues:
-- Medal of the National Order of Merit will be presented on November the fourteenth.
Clementine makes such a gymnastics with his mouth that it begins to ring of blue. Then she resumes:
-- I suggest, and it is the lesser of things, the town offers a wine of honour!
-- You're right, Clementine, I forgot. Who is for?
-- It is out of question, Jean-Sébastien storms, it is a farce! Boutel is in the midst of Criminal Procedure! He must pass the court of appeal in the months ahead.
-- We vote, who is for?
Only Pifon and Clementine raise their hands!
-- Who is against?
Deval and Billard raise their hands.
Pifon do not mean to assert the primacy of his voice, Clementine is already sorry:
-- Well, Basseville-on-earth will not offer its former mayor decorated a wine of honour, it's not very elegant.
-- The meeting is over.
Now, it is no longer a sweet smell that invades the councilroom: frankly, it smells of burnt and Clementine only adds:
-- Ah! Andrew, Ah! Pifon, this time the carrots are cooked!
Jean-Sébastien has regained a smile.
November the eleventh, is tomorrow. Christophe receives a call. This is Michel Deval. He never heard it in this state! Michel speaks highly, he laughs, he says that they have won.
-- But what is it?
-- It is about Boutel. His medal, it passes under the nose. That is a great new!
-- But what happened?
-- When the National Order of Merit has known that there was a pending criminal proceedings against him, they decided not to call the medal on the fourteenth. They will give him the medal only if he is definitely out of question.
Apparently, they fear the scandal that it would be if Boutel was sentenced after receiving the medal: that's already happened, knights do not appreciate, there are even some of them who return the Order their decoration!
-- But what will do Boutel? He already has sent invitations as you know.
-- It seems that he has sent three hundred invitations at least. Surely it must stir ... Oh, Christophe, tell me when I can come at your home, I have something to submit you!
-- Pass when you want. But what?
-- I will hand you over a duplicate of the invitation that the association has sent in the name of Boutel for the award. What the hell is going on?
-- Ah well, it is necessary that the Parawi drinks, too! I'm home, come when you want!
Hardly more than six months after the criminal court judgement, on April the 20th, 1998, the court of appeal makes its judgement. This is the number 98/342 of this year (File No. 97/00700). As the first degree and although the contracts have been awarded in accordance with Articles 295 to 300, public procurement code, the court says that there have been transact-contracts. Only this time, Christophe is relieved, he is no more likely of prosecutions for defamation because the principle of guilt is held and each accused, except one who was not able to measure the scope of its acts, and each other one gets a small fine sentence, 6,000 francs sentence. Of course, it is much, much less than what the prosecutor requested on June the 3rd, 1997, almost one year ago, but we are satisfied!
And the announcement of the appeal of Boutel for cassation, he does not care about: the others convicted as receivers, keep their condemnation of Appeal. That, at least, is acquired. As for Boutel, he may still have a bad surprise! At reading of the judgement, the surprise is total for Christophe because this conviction seemed less and less likely: in the local weekly two weeks ago, in the first page, the rag quoted the chairman of the general council, a former president of chamber at the court of appeal of Paris. He welcomes the acquittal, pure and simple which had benefited Boutel and others at the criminal court. A conviction would have been, for him, something shocking, appalling. So, Christophe says, if even the president of the general council decides in this sense it is lost! However, opinions of the eminence of local politics are deemed questionable: for example, during the inauguration of a building should receive the departmental archives, he straight to the point, saying that " here would be concentrated most of the forces of intelligence and culture of the region "! You can not talk about demagoguery: it's still a lot of people having to share the bare minimum in terms of intellect and culture in the region ...
Christophe is much more relaxed since he became aware of the decision of April the 20th: he will ask the text by writing to the court, as he did for the trial of the criminal court, as he will do with the judgement of the court of cassation, since Boutel has appealed, and as he will by addressing the last court of appeal if the court of cassation decides to break the appeal judgement. He will hang on Boutel!
Once again Michel Deval calls Christophe Potteur. It's been a month since Boutel and others have been sentenced on appeal:
-- It stirs in the prefecture, should I pass and talk with you!
-- I don’t move from here, come when you want.
-- Ok! I arrive.
Michel is an incomparable source of information: he knows everyone and everyone talks about all with him. We must recognize that he is rather jovial and that his judgement is appreciated. Christophe often think back to how Michel refused to vote for the complaint, believing that justice could turn against them! And then, more recently, he revealed the delaying of the medal delivery. And yet Michel describes the small demonstration of sympathy to Boutel which replaced the medal award. One would think he was on the spot! The event had lost its attraction for the cause of Boutel, the alternative event was not held in the multipurpose hall of Basseville but in a cinema that a vice-president of the general council has put at their disposal in the southern of the department. There were speeches. Mr Grand Guignaux was there and he assured that the portion of the procedure that was still to come would be a formality. Then, replacing the National Order of Merit, Boutel received a small medal that the prefecture found quickly for him: a chocolate medal, "said Michel in laughing. And then to move further the assistance, Boutel has paid his traditional small tear!
Well, Michel should arrive now! There he is, he is stopping his car in the courtyard. He stops and gets out of his car. Christophe has him in, them both sit in the office. And Michel begins:
-- It seems, is even sure that the prefect Aposs has been fired!
-- Ah! Ah! Fired?
-- Yes, he has been transferred, it means he is fired!
-- I think this is not quite the same thing, transferred and fired. And why has it been fired?
-- The cassettes we found at the town hall and he came to get back on the election night at the same time that another theft the ballot box, you remember?
-- Yes, you told me this but so many things happened since then!
-- These tapes or others, other then us came across them on the prefecture, and that time he was not able to retrieve them! He is fired, he is no longer prefect, the decision has been taken from the Pompadour’s place, in the council of ministers, on July the 15th!
-- Good riddance! What a bad rubbish, what a garbage this swine!