Five years later, the case of the « predatory king » resurfaces before the courts. Suspected of « blackmailing » King Mohammed VI of Morocco, the case of Eric Laurent and Catherine Graciet, has been referred to trial, according to AFP. The two French journalists will soon be tried in Paris for blackmailing the king of Morocco, nearly six years after the case began. The facts date back to 2015.
The case of Éric Laurent and Catherine Graciet has been referred to trial. The two French journalists will soon be tried in a criminal court in Paris for blackmailing the King of Morocco, almost six years after the case began. In an 11-page order dated February 2, and consulted by AFP, the investigating judges in charge of this investigation ordered a trial for « blackmail » for the authors, in 2012, of a previous book on King Mohammed VI, entitled « The Predator King ».
However, the judges dropped the charges of « extortion by threat ». « As too often, the order of referral to the criminal court is a copy-paste of the indictment, » said William Bourdon and Bertrand Repolt, lawyers for Eric Laurent. « From the outset, a judicial mechanism has been set in motion with fuss and orchestration, without any factual basis. Eric Laurent should be released from the charge of blackmail, » they said.
This affair broke out in the summer of 2015, a few months before the scheduled publication of a new book by these journalists on Morocco. According to initial information at the time, Catherine Graciet and Eric Laurent, authors of a book against the king of Morocco, contacted the Moroccan royal cabinet to warn of the book’s release. The professionals then contacted Hicham Naciri, a lawyer for Hassan II’s son and successor.
It was then that Eric Laurent, a former Radio France reporter, explained that he wanted the sum of 2 million euros in order not to reveal embarrassing information. The versions then diverge. Eric Laurent evoked a financial agreement not to publish the book. Rabat, who was defended during the proceedings by Éric Dupond-Moretti, now the French Minister of Justice, asserts that the proposal came from the journalist, who demanded 3 million euros.
As a reminder, on 20 August 2015, Morocco had filed a complaint in Paris and an investigation was opened. Two other meetings followed, on 21 and 27 August, during which the sum negotiated was reduced to 2 million euros, AFP continues, recalling that at the end of this last meeting, the two journalists had been arrested in possession of 80,000 euros.