Jean-Marie Bernard will be tried Monday for detention, transport and transfer of part of a protected species.
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Political act or offense against a protected species? The president of the Hautes-Alpes Departmental Council, Jean-Marie Bernard, appears Monday February 15 before the Gap criminal court for offering a wolf tail to the prefect Cécile Bigot-Dekeyzer, during her departure ceremony in February 2020. A “political act” which he then claimed to defend the breeders, faced with canine attacks on their cattle.
Several associations for the defense of the environment had taken justice and the investigation opened by the prosecution had resulted in December in an appearance in preliminary recognition of guilt (CRPC) that the elected official had rejected. Jean-Marie Bernard is therefore tried for “possession, transport and transfer of a part of a protected species”, an offense punishable by three years in prison and a fine of 150,000 euros. “Given the political dimension, this trial should never have taken place”, considers Philippe Neveu, lawyer of the elected.
It was “a wink that I wanted to make and a strong gesture: the prefects come by, the wolf stays and the breeders are always so desperate”, Jean-Marie Bernard (LR) told AFP in February 2020. According to the defense, Jean-Marie Bernard “is neither near nor far a poacher”. He would have found this tail on his mailbox a few weeks before the ceremony and would be “unable to tell if it’s a wolf tail”.
For associations, no doubt. “It’s a wolf’s tail that comes from an animal that has not been legally taken”, assures Mathieu Victoria, the lawyer of the League for the protection of birds (LPO) who filed a complaint, genetic analysis in support. “The political act does not constitute an exception to the criminal responsibility”, he believes.