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Pierre Maudet Geneva politician benefit case causes shockwaves

Pierre Maudet (archive picture)

Pierre Maudet, speaking at an event on June 22, 2018

(Keystone)

The Geneva cantonal public prosecutor says it wants to open an investigation into the head of the Geneva cantonal government – and former Federal Council candidate – Pierre Maudet. The case concerns a report that Maudet accepted benefits during a trip to Abu Dhabi in 2015.

In a statement on Thursday eveningexternal link, the Geneva cantonal public prosecutor said Maudet had been invited to Abu Dhabi by its crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed bin Al-Nahyan, in November 2015 to watch a Formula 1 race. The prince is said to have paid for flights and accommodation for Maudet, his family and chief of staff, at a cost amounting to several tens of thousands of Swiss francs. Maudet had previously said that it was a private trip, paid for by a friend.

The public prosecutor said that there were several members of the Geneva property sector involved in the organisation of the trip, without giving further information.

Last year, the Geneva politicianexternal link failed in his attempt to become one of the seven ministers that make up the Federal Council (executive body) in Bern.

+ Read more about the ministerial attempt here

The Geneva cantonal parliament still has to agree to the investigation.  

Pressure

News of the possible investigation came in the middle of a cantonal parliament debate, at which Maudetexternal link, a centre-right politician, was present. “The statement caused an earthquake in Geneva politics,” said Andreas Stüdliexternal link, Swiss public television SRF correspondent for French-speaking Switzerland.

Some politicians called for Maudet to resign; others expressed shock at the move by the public prosecutor, which had started looking into the matter last year.

Maudet himself has not commented on the latest development. His lawyer has said that Maudet agrees to the lifting of his immunity and wants to be interviewed by the public prosecutor as soon as possible.

“He is now under extreme pressure,” Stüdli said.

Friday’s local press external linkquestioned whether Maudet’s career would survive the affair. Coverage by the Tribune de Genève expressed surprise that the affair concerns Maudet, who is known for his tough stance on crime. Maudet also chairs the Conference of Cantonal Justice and Police Directors.

The cantonal government said late Thursday eveningexternal link that is had noted both the public prosecutor’s request for an investigation and Maudet’s desire to be relieved of immunity, but that it did not intend to take any hasty decisions, given the ongoing nature of these issues.

A parliamentary committee is due to look at the prosecutor’s request, and the cantonal parliament will debate the issue – probably during its session on September 20-21, according to the Swiss news agency SDA-ATS. On Friday Maudet's party, the Geneva branch of the centre-right Radical-Liberal Party, asked for the session on the issue of Maudet's immunity to be moved up, possibly to Monday.

SDA-ATS/SRF/ilj

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