Members of the French judiciary have deserted courts nationwide in a defiant stand against President Sarkozy’s criticism of the legal system.
Over the last week, all but urgent court cases have been halted in protest at his remarks.
Today’s mass mobilisation, the year before France’s presidential election, comes amid a separate strike by teachers.
“What the head of state wants is to eliminate the public justice service and public education service. It is no coincidence that teachers are also demonstrating,” said Francoise Cotta, a lawyer, protesting in Paris.
“Justice must be given the real means to function. And it is useless to designate scapegoats because we are entering an electoral campaign. The head of states’s speech is extremely dangerous for freedom. It is extremely dangerous because it encourages violence.”
Sarkozy lashed out following the murder of an 18-year-old woman, allegedly by a repeat offender not properly supervised after his release from jail. But those on the front line say he has got it wrong and that the real problem is a lack of resources.
Sarkozy’s criticism targeted the justice service in the Nantes region of western France where Laetitia Perrais was abducted. Magistrates and lawyers demonstrating there were joined by police.