FRANCE

Fillon party mayor of Aix-en-Provence to face corruption trial

Aix mayor Maryse Joissains-Masini
Aix mayor Maryse Joissains-Masini Public domain/Georges Seguin (Okki)

The mayor of the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence, a member of presidential candidate François Fillon's Republicans party, is to face corruption charges relating to the promotion of her chauffeur to a senior council post and the appointment of an animal-rights activist to an alleged fake job.

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The right-wing mayor of the historic city, Maryse Joissains-Masini, says she will fight the order that she face trial for misuse of public funds and collusion, saying that she believes she behaved perfectly legally.

Acting on an anonymous letter, examining magistrate Marc Rivet opened an inquiry into Joissains-Masini in 2012 and has concluded that the local council was run with a "sumptuous mixture of autocracy, nepotism and light-mindedness in the use of public funds".

Jossains, 74, has been mayor of Aix sincer 2001 and was an MP from 2002-2012.

From chauffeur to senior council officer

In 2013 she persuaded a committee to promote her chauffeur, Omar Achouri, who was at one time her parliamentary assistant, to a 4,400-euro-a-month post although he was placed 50th on the list of candidates.

Challenged over his suitability for the post, she claimed that in some jobs, "particularly in the mayor's office", it was custom and practise not to put things in writing.

A Marseille court overturned the appointment last December.

Animal rights

Rivet is also demanding an explanation of the employment of a local animal rights activist on a regional body that he believes has no competence in the matter she was supposed to work on, while NGOs already received grants to fight animal cruelty and shelter stray dogs and cats.

Cases against the two have been dropped but Achouri's son, Christophe, is to face trial for being paid for a job in the city's sport service, for which he allegedly put in very rare appearances.

Joissans-Masini claims she is the victim of a vendetta.

 

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