Acquittal of embattled Geneva politician overturned by federal court

Roller-coaster court journey: Maudet, pictured here in 2020. Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

According to Switzerland’s highest court, Pierre Maudet acted improperly in accepting an all-expenses-paid trip to Abu Dhabi during his time as cantonal minister in Geneva.

This content was published on November 16, 2022 - 17:19

It’s the overturning of an overturning: after Maudet was found guilty by a Geneva court in 2021 of accepting undue financial perks linked to a 2015 Abu Dhabi trip, he was acquitted by an appeals court in the canton earlier this year.

On Wednesday however, the Federal Court reversed things again: judges said Maudet was indeed aware of the improper aspects of the trip, which they said couldn’t be dissociated from his position in the cantonal government at the time.

The trip represented an “undue advantage”, the court said in a decision dated October 31. This remains the case regardless of whether or not those who offered the advantage – in this case the royal family of the United Arab Emirates – expected something in return.

The appeals court in Geneva, which had acquitted Maudet earlier this year, had done so partly on the grounds that there was no indication that the invitation by the UAE royals was aimed at winning concrete favours from Maudet.

The case will now return to the cantonal appeals court for another judgement.

The affair cast a shadow on Maudet’s previously stellar career, leading to his gradual removal from power and his exclusion from the centre-right Radical Liberal Party.

Maudet himself has always claimed innocence and has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to get back into political life in Geneva. He has announced plans to run for a seat on the cantonal government in elections next spring.

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