It is a role that intrigues, even shocks: that of the lawyers who defend the most serious criminals during their trial.
For Francis Vuillemin, a criminal lawyer who notably defended Maurice Papon, Carlos or Mehdi Nemmouche, the lawyer is above all there to mitigate “the violence of the sentence to come”, but above all not “to acquit a culprit, it is not his goal”, he affirms, even if he recognizes that there are “files which are lost in advance”. Me Francis Vuillemin cites the trial of Maurice Papon, sentenced on April 2, 1998 for “complicity in crimes against humanity”, for his role in the deportations of Jews from the Bordeaux region to the Drancy camp.
“The civil party lawyers requested life imprisonment, the general attorney requested 20 years. We were fighting for acquittal, that was the objective. We failed, but the sentence stabilized at ten years , but it came out after two and a half years, so our goal has been halfway achieved”explains Francis Vuillemin.
Threats: “It’s part of the game”
But defending criminals proves as difficult outside as it is on the trial benches for lawyers. “I received threats of violence by mail, death threats…“, says Francis Vuillemin, who expects to receive “letters, jokes or threats” for the trial of Mehdi Nemmouche in France, scheduled in “one or two years”.
However, the lawyer says he “never filed a complaint for that. I think it’s even a lawyer’s honor to have to resist these circumstances and evacuate this type of threat to fully assume his role, so it’s part of the game. to move, because in general, there are no consequences”, concludes Me Francis Vuillemin.