Lawyer Pascal Garbarini, under indictment, decided to speak in the columns of Corse-Matin and in the context of an interview that he will double with an interview with our colleagues from the Obs. He assumes to ensure his own defense here
historical lawyer of the band known as the Petit Bar, you were indicted on June 14 for “criminal association”, suspected of having exceeded your advisory function in a money laundering case. You want to talk. What are you pleading?
This association of criminals, in addition to being grotesque, is a negation of my profession as a lawyer and of the practice of defence. What am I being blamed for? To defend Jacques Santoni (the presumed leader of the so-called Petit Bar gang, editor’s note) by wanting to make me appear, along the long course of the latter’s itinerary punctuated by multiple procedures, as the last obstacle to be overcome. While they were denying my client’s disability, while they were trying to throw him in prison in spite of court reports showing that he could not be detained, I managed to stand up against his detention. I am therefore quite naturally targeted, embodying in the eyes of justice the ultimate bulwark against the will of the judges to lock up Jacques Santoni and completely isolate him from his family. I mainly mean his family.
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The immediate professional consequences of your indictment?
In reality, there is only one, unique, it is now impossible for me to intervene in the defense of Jacques Santoni. That is to say that at the time when I speak to you Jacques Santoni no longer has a lawyer.
To what extent is criminal defense still possible without the proximity between the lawyer and his client being synonymous with complicity?
This question remains fundamental since today the exercise of criminal defense is more and more complicated and weakened from the moment when it is considered that the proximity between a lawyer and his client can be qualified as complicity. However, everything is precisely implemented, better, everything is at work, so that this proximity, this bond of trust, is reprehensible. And that it can be the object of an attack in good standing like the one for which I am paying the price.
What do you fear more, that this case brings shame on your family or that it condemns you to be considered a shady black robe?
My experience, my professional path, before any other element, draw protective boundaries, I have been able to verify this since my indictment a week ago, so that this attempt to damage my reputation remains completely circumscribed. . I was even going to say unusual. If this was one of the objectives pursued, it is thwarted. Especially since all of my customers have renewed their confidence in me. And then, I have nothing to hide, Jacques Santoni, within my firm, which is 95% made up of Parisian and foreign clients, is only one defense among many others, the turnover that I realized being a hundred times greater than the fees paid to me by my Corsican client. If the investigating court has only this means at its disposal to hinder a favorable decision in this case, I take it almost as a tribute. This is proof that I am a good lawyer, one of those who are feared because I am able to win my case. You mentioned my relatives, they didn’t ask for anything and yet could be collateral victims of this crude instrumentalization that is made of my dress.
The lawyers indicted remain, it seems, rare cases. You gonna swear we want your head?
I will undeceive you. Every day, lawyers are indicted. The function of criminal lawyer and the defense in general are increasingly abused, and this concerns all lawyers. It is considered that the defense has too many rights and that it prevents the proceedings from going in circles. This is his fault, we are made to understand. In doing so, we scratch the very foundation of our profession. To be a lawyer is to exercise one’s defense fully and to use all the instruments that are in the Code of Criminal Procedure. We are criticized more and more strongly for this.
What hides behind?
There are so many ways to achieve results, whether in organized crime, tax optimization, among others, that we do not allow the lawyer to arrive with his dress, his pleading, his skills slung over his shoulder and dismantles months and years of procedure. But it’s the democratic game, it’s the legal game and we have to accept it. When a lawyer loses a case when he thinks his client is innocent, he accepts the sentence.
It is the same Jirs (specialized interregional court), not having heard your arguments, which recently issued a general dismissal order in the investigation into the assassination of Jacques Nacer. This example, among others, illustrates the paradox of a justice that is as resigned at times as it is sometimes zealous. How can this wide gap in the search for truth be explained?
It is true that when one compares the expenditure of means, material and human, just for Corsica, the handling of Corsican affairs, and the results obtained, one can legitimately worry about it and wonder how with so much of resources we end up with so few results. But it also shows that the defenses are doing their job, that the lawyers are fighting, and once again, it’s the legal game. I don’t know the Nacer file. The only thing I know is that my client, Jacques Santoni, had been targeted in this case by the famous pentiti without there being any legal action, while the charges brought by the same pentiti had, for their part, , were considered to reflect the truth. This example, to show the difficulty one is confronted with when one is advising someone, and in particular Jacques Santoni.
Have you considered no longer being the lawyer for the members of the Petit Bar?
I want to be clear. When I am chosen, when I am trusted as a lawyer, and when I accept the mission, I am no better than another, but I go to the end and I assume my defense strategy even if she must displease. I am not here to seduce the judges but to do my job, without complacency, and at my post. Today, the reproach that is made to me, and which falls by itself since I no longer defend Jacques Santoni, consists in highlighting the fact that I practice a common defense. Except that from the moment there is no conflict of interest, I have the right, like many lawyers, to defend several people in the same case.
Answer the question…
My indictment is nothing but intimidation, pressure. With a message addressed to me, inviting me to free myself from the defense of Jacques Santoni*.
You won’t back down, then?
That’s not how I was brought up.
Is there a mafia on the island, and if so, how would you qualify it?
I dispute the word mafia which would mean that the whole island of Corsica – its economic, social, political activity – would be polluted or infiltrated by criminal groups. Fortunately, we are still far from it, and as far as I know, no court decision can demonstrate it. I consider, on the other hand, because I am also a citizen, that indeed there is organized crime in Corsica. But to qualify it as a mafia is another step. These are slogans that are used, books that are written, and, in my opinion, do not reflect the reality of the island. Otherwise, it would attest to the presence in Corsica of a host of accomplices. We must be careful not to confuse family relationships, friends, and mafia networks.
Corsica, you have moved away from it. “Corsitude as a principle of life is a closure to the world. A narrow-mindedness that kills us”, ping you in June 2019 in the columns of Liberation. Some might point out your ingratitude towards an island that has shaped you?
I don’t think anyone could criticize me. I have always fought during my young life to have my cortitude recognized. Nevertheless, the search for it at all costs can turn into a withdrawal into oneself. Personally, I prefer the idea of a Corsica open to the outside. And of Corsicans putting their codes, of solidarity, of friendship, of fraternity, of humanity, their deep family ties, at the service of bridges and footbridges to be built with others. Corsica has so much to share.
Island news also caught up with you on March 2 with the attack on Yvan Colonna, for whom you were the lawyer. Was his death totally unnecessary?
His death is a tragedy. She saddened me deeply. And I’m afraid indeed that it was of no use.
A parliamentary commission of inquiry to shed light, do you believe in it?
We know perfectly well that when there is a parliamentary committee, it means first-class burial of the file.
Éric Dupond-Moretti renewed Keeper of the Seals while he is under a procedure for illegal taking of interest, indictment at the key, the decision challenges you?
It is the court decision that concerns me. Éric Dupond-Moretti was an excellent lawyer. By donning his minister’s clothes, he accepted a complex mission that was totally foreign to him. He had to understand the stakes, the functioning, the cogs. Coming to reproach him for past pleadings, forced acquittals, won legal battles, and thus scratching his commitment to government is not very fair play.
“My dress for armor”, published in 2019, a half-outlet half-catharsis book. The irony of fate wants that same dress to crack to weaken you today. Could she break you?
I did not know that this title would be premonitory. My dress will protect me until the end, especially in the face of this procedure, which could only be burlesque if it weren’t so serious. They want to harm me, through me to achieve the rights of defense in general, the future of a man in particular. From enveloping, my dress has become shielded.
In addition to your profession as a lawyer, you are an actor, a comedian. Did you play a role in this interview?
In your columns, through this interview, I defend myself. Me, Pascal Garbarini. I defend myself with strength and conviction. I defend myself as a lawyer. As a man. For mine. The best defenses are accents of truth. I played no role.
* Pascal Garbarini means by this that he is no longer Jacques Santoni’s historical lawyer. The latter continues to be represented as justiciable.