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France

French lawyer asks for judge to be disqualified due to Jewish name

media French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira visits the Elysée presidential … Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

French public prosecutors have promised to come down hard on a lawyer who requested that a judge be taken off a case because he is Jewish. Justice Minister Christiane Taubira has pledged “total support” to Judge Albert Lévy, who has suffered anti-Semitic attacks and threats from the far right and an Islamist group in the past.

Disciplinary proceedings are to be instituted against lawyer Alexis Dubruel, who practises in the southern city of Lyon, after he demanded that Lévy be disqualified from judging a case in which a girl’s grandmother demanded the right to visit her granddaughter.

The problem, argued Dubruel, citing Wikipedia entries in his support, was that the father’s name is Moïse (Moses) after “the founder of the Jewish religion”, while Lévy “is, according to the Jewish religion, one of the names of descendants of the Levites, members of the Levi tribe”.

In a previous hearing his client had felt that she had been treated as the accused rather than the accuser, he claimed, implying that the judge was biased in the defendant’s favour because of their common origins.

The Lyon appeal court threw out the request and fined Dubruel the maximum possible penalty of 750 euros on Tuesday afternoon.

Describing the request as “ignominious”, Lyon chief prosecutor Jacques Beaume declared that he would take instituting disciplinary proceedings against the lawyer. The Lyon bar, to which Dubruel belongs, also called for him to be disciplined.

Taubira pledged her support to Lévy and announced that she was ready to help “measures of statutory protection” for magistrates.

Last spring Albert Lévy was placed under police protection after the banned Islamist group Forsane Alizza was found to be planning to kidnap him.

In the 1990s, when he worked in the southern port of Toulon, he was subjected to an anti-Semitic hate campaign and his life was threatened when investigating allegations of links between the far-right Front National and organised crime.

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