This intermediate hearing was intended to examine the objections of nullity raised by the defense lawyers on the direct summons aimed at their clients.
The direct summons allows the victim of an offense to apply directly to a criminal court. In this type of procedure, there are no investigations carried out by magistrates. Charges complainants with collecting evidence and naming suspects.
This was addressed to fourteen former representatives of ministries, business leaders or doctors, aged 62 to 84, who would have sought to delay the ban on carcinogenic fiber, which took place in 1997.
The plaintiffs want them to answer for their ties to the Permanent Asbestos Committee (CPA), described in a 2005 Senate report as a pro-asbestos "lobby" active between 1982 and 1995, when all varieties of asbestos were classified carcinogens by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 1977.
During this technical hearing enamelled with passes of arms and acid criticisms with Me Antoine Vey, counsel for nearly 2.000 plaintiffs, the defense lawyers notably pointed to the "vagueness" of the direct quote, which does not state "the fact prosecuted", "the period of exposure" or even the link between the facts and the civil parties.
“When you go to court, the perimeter of the debate must be fixed during the hearing,” thundered Me Georges Holleaux, lawyers for two people cited.
Prosecutor and head of the public health department Laëtitia Costantini, who also raised "dysfunctions" and "abnormalities" in the citation, asked the court to declare it null and void, which would prevent the holding of a trial on the merits.
"It's an approach that was made in conscience, by thousands of people," retorted Me Vey, explaining that his clients especially wanted to have "an adversarial debate" with the officials cited and not necessarily see them condemned in fine.
For about three years, most asbestos cases investigated in Paris have ended in dismissals.
In 2012, health authorities estimated that asbestos could cause three thousand deaths each year by 2025 from cancers of the pleura or bronchopulmonary cancers.