“Palace Secrets”, itinerary of a lawyer, from petty thugs to Corsican “clients”

Book. Priest or lawyer? The cassock or the dress? Patrick Maisonneuve chose the dress and the accompanying oath: “I swear, as a lawyer, to perform my duties with dignity, conscience, independence, probity and humanity. » When he was a child, the mother of this 66-year-old Auvergnat gave him an ecclesiastical vocation. But the life and the loves of youth decided otherwise: Patrick Maisonneuve became a criminal lawyer, registered with the Paris bar since December 19, 1979.

Over the course of a career that he recounts in Palace SecretsMe Maisonneuve has pleaded as many cases of heinous crimes that are common in the courts of assizes as those of the Corsican nationalists who, in the years 1980-1990, disentangled themselves in the hushed salons of the Ministry of the Interior. A leftist, he defended Socialist Party (PS) officials caught in the nets of the Urba affair – the secret financing of the PS discovered at the end of the 1980s – and, with the same vigor, the former head of French counterintelligence Bernard Squarcini, close to President Sarkozy.

The “poisoned” life of Pierre Bérégovoy

Lawyer for Pierre Bérégovoy, whom he accompanied until the end of despair on 1er May 1993, Maisonneuve wonders again: “What could I have done more or better? The question keeps haunting me.” he writes. Three weeks before his death, he has, in front of him, “someone who is in total, deep distress”. The lawyer comes back to the revelation of an interest-free loan granted to the former Prime Minister, this “case that poisoned life [de Bérégovoy] even though justice did not reproach him for anything”he pleads again.

From the mid-1980s until the early 2000s, the maelstrom of Corsican business would make Maisonneuve an island “master Casanova”. Nothing to do with the Venetian character of the XVIIIe century, but simply the “corsification” of his surname. With Corsica, Patrick Maisonneuve, who defends in particular the separatist Charles Pieri, suspected of being one of the main leaders of the Corsican National Liberation Front, discovers another side of the profession of lawyer: that of mediator.

The assassination of the prefect Erignac

The socialist government named after the re-election of François Mitterrand in 1988 wishes to find a solution to the Corsican problem. The mission is incumbent on the Minister of the Interior Pierre Joxe. “The only discussions are for months on the gradual release of the nationalists”, remembers Maisonneuve. Meetings take place at Place Beauvau. “At 6 a.m. for reasons of discretion. » At the time, it was the investigating judge who decided on incarceration and release. “For this, the judge takes into account what is commonly called ‘reason of state'”, says the lawyer.

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