PARIS (Reuters) -Former French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn has been put under formal investigation over her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, a court official told Reuters on Friday.
The development marks one of first cases worldwide where a leading public sector official has been held legally accountable for the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Buzyn, health minister from May 2017 to February 2020, stepped down at the start of the pandemic to run for mayor of Paris, after the ruling party LREM’s candidate Benjamin Griveaux was forced to withdraw after a sex-tape scandal.
She lost her bid for the Paris city hall and ended up being appointed in January to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, in charge of monitoring multilateral issues.
Her actions are being investigated by the Cour de Justice de La Republique, a special court that deals with complaints against ministers.
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At the heart of the matter are questions asked in many countries: was the government sufficiently prepared to face a pandemic, and were the many policy changes and u-turns, including on mask wearing, a reflection of how the science evolved or a sign of political failings.
Being put under formal investigation is just a first step. Judges will decide, after further looking into the case, either that it case should be dropped or that there is sufficient proof of wrongdoing to take it to court.
This is part of a broader investigation into the government’s handling of the pandemic and Buzyn’s successor in the health ministry, Olivier Veran, is widely expected to be summoned by the same judges in the coming weeks.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Bertrand Boucey;Writing by Ingrid Melander;Editing by GV De Clercq and Alistair Bell)
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