At the Bobigny court, false start in the trial for “complicity in drug trafficking” of the former mayor of Canteleu

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The former socialist mayor of Canteleu (Seine-Maritime), Mélanie Boulanger, arrives at the Bobigny courthouse with her lawyer Arnaud de Saint-Remy (right) before her trial for “complicity in drug trafficking”, May 27 2024. THOMAS SAMSON / AFP

There are fifteen of them on one side, she is alone on the other. They are all dressed in black, she wears a white jacket. The trial of a network of drug traffickers based in Canteleu (Seine-Maritime), on the outskirts of Rouen, is about to begin, Monday May 27, at the Bobigny court, and Mélanie Boulanger, the former socialist mayor (2014 -2024) of this town of 14,000 inhabitants, judged for “complicity”, is keen to stay away for the moment: all her co-defendants have taken their places on the left benches, she is on the right, alongside her lawyer, far from those with whom she is accused of having compromised.

Read also | Article reserved for our subscribers Former mayor of Canteleu in court for “complicity in drug trafficking”

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Room number 5 of the Bobigny court seems a little small for the vast network – up to ten million euros in profits per year – that needs to be judged. The president, Jean-Baptiste Acchiardi, opens the debates: “I will ask the defendants to stand up and come to the stand. » Half of the audience gets up, and a traffic jam forms in the aisles. “It is the largest room of the court, apart from the assize court, which is occupied”apologizes the president, who then lists for three quarters of an hour the charges against each of the defendants.

The name of Mélanie Boulanger is one of the last called. The white jacket comes to the stand, the president reads the warning. The former mayor of Canteleu is therefore accused of having been complicit in the trafficking – from which she received no financial benefit – “by providing information to traffickers about police checks, by warning them of the installation of video surveillance cameras or by delaying their installation, or by asking the police to avoid certain areas”.

“Have you correctly understood the facts with which you are accused?the president asks him.
– Yes, but I refute them. »
The chosen one is invited to sit down again, and the white jacket takes its place among the black jackets: Mélanie Boulanger insisted, this time, on sitting on the defendants’ benches.

“Procedural mess”

The hearing can then begin, but it is short. Half a dozen defense lawyers stand up in turn and ask for the trial to be postponed for reasons relating to respect for procedure: a certain number of wiretaps appearing in the file are the subject of a dispute, these lawyers consider them illegal and wish to have them annulled. The Court of Cassation has been seized, and it is inconceivable, in their eyes, to begin the debates until the high court has ruled.

The investigating judge who decided to close the investigation and refer the defendants to court was well aware of this shaky situation. He wrote in his referral order: “As of the date of writing of this order, the judgments of the Court of Cassation have not been rendered. » But he felt that “the concern for respecting the reasonable trial period and the ongoing pre-trial detentions [commandaient] now to return [son] prescription ” and clarified, to defuse the debate, that in his reflection, he had not [pas pris] taking into consideration the comments made during the sound system” contentious.

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