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Misuse of public funds scandal led ex-MEP to her death – POLITICO

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French politician and top Emmanuel Macron ally François Bayrou said Wednesday that a long-standing judicial case over misuse of EU funds and the ensuing scandal led his fellow party member and close associate Marielle de Sarnez to her death, in an eyebrow-raising comment.

Bayrou, de Sarnez and several former French MEPs from the centrist Modem party have been under investigation in France since 2017 over allegations of misusing public funds. They were accused of using fictitious parliamentary assistant positions at the European Parliament to divert €1.4 million worth of public funds from the European Union.

De Sarnez later died from leukemia in January 2021. The legal case is still ongoing.

“There is obviously in cases like this a dimension of human aggression that is heavy to carry,” said Bayrou, whose Modem centrist party is one of President Emmanuel Macron’s key allies in Parliament, on French radio.

“In this kind of trap, there are people with broad shoulders, a thick skin, who can stand it, and others who do not have that strength, who fall ill, and who sometimes die,” he added.

Both Bayrou and de Sarnez had to resign from their Cabinet positions shortly after the news of the investigation was leaked in the press in June 2017.

Asked to confirm if he was implying that de Sarnez died because of the scandal, Bayrou answered: “I don’t know a single person who knew her and can say otherwise.”

Both Bayrou and de Sarnez denied any wrongdoing in the case. On Monday, a Paris public prosecutor requested the opening of a trial against Bayrou and 12 other French politicians over allegations of “misuse of public funds” or “complicity.”

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