Monsieur M'Hamed Bellouti must be relieved. Over three years after the original incident, a French court has overturned the decision of a lower court that he acted maliciously in alleging that a scooter owned by one of Sarkozy's sons damaged his car. He doesn't have to pay Sarkozy's son 2000 Euros, either.
In the autumn of 2005, Monsieur Bellouti was driving his father's BMW in Paris traffic when a scooter barged into his rear bumper in heavy traffic. Not pausing to exchange insurance details, the rider drove off, making a rude gesture. Monsieur Bellouti's passenger had taken the number of the scooter, so there should have been no problem in bringing its' owner to book.
M. Bellouti's insurance company could get no response, however, and eventually told him to contact the police, as it is an offence not to fill out insurance forms in case of traffic accidents. It was at this point that he discovered that the registered owner was one Jean Sarkozy, son of the then Interior Minister, now President of the French Republic. He accordingly made a complaint, but, months later, when he asked what had happened to it, he was told that there was no trace of a complaint ever having been made! He had had enough...the damage was not severe, and he was sick and tired of following it up, so he let the matter drop.
In January 2006, he changed his mind. Jean Sarkozy's scooter had been stolen, and the Paris police were on full alert...no effort was spared to recover the vehicle....and recovered it duly was within days. DNA samples were taken from helmets, mobile telephone calls located..and the Interior Minister proclaimed himself very pleased indeed with the efforts of his men. M. Bellouti compared that with the history of the 'lost without trace complaint' and decided to take up his claim for damage once more. This was when his life changed.
After informal efforts to resolve the case failed, he sought a lawyer...only to find lawyers sadly lacking...at least three refused to take the case, citing fears for their careers, before he found one to take him on. The lawyer tried to settle things out of court, but, finding this imposssible, served papers on Jean Sarkozy. Well, he tried to. He had to try several bailiffs before finding one bold enough to tap on the door of the Sarkozy residence.
Finally there was action from the Sarkozy camp. An offer was made to settle the affair, but, as the date of the hearing approached, no further advances were made. In court, instead of one judge, as would be usual for such a trivial affair, there was a college of three, who passed the buck by demanding a judicial evaluation of the damage before coming to any decisions. The 'expert' announced that it was impossible to make any evaluation, given the time elapsed since the original incident, and the case came back to court for judgement.
In the meantime, M. Bellouti was receiving threatening 'phone calls, advising him to drop the case, and drop it he did, only to pick it up again when he discovered that Jean Sarkozy's lawyer had contacted M. Bellouti's insurance company, posing as M. Bellouti's lawyer, to extract information.
The case came back to court. The expert now produced a report....impossible though he had thought it to do so originally...stating that a scooter could not have damaged the bumper of the BMW, based on a letter he had sent to the new owner of the car asking for photographs!
Jean Sarkozy said he wasn't on the scooter at the time, but in classes at the University. He didn't have any witnesses, but, hey, this is a Sarkozy we're talking about here! He also said he never lent out his scooter.
The court decided that Jean Sarkozy had no responsibility whatsoever, and, further, that M. Bellouti was guilty of bringing a malicious prosecution in that he must have acted in bad faith! Oh, and he had to pay Sarkozy 2000 Euros in compensation.
Outraged, M. Bellouti appealed.
Outraged, Sarkozy appealed...for more compensation.
The prosecuting authorities having decided that no further proceedings could be brought against Jean Sarkozy, the question before the court was that of the malicious prosecution, and, happily for M. Bellouti, it quashed the verdict of the lower court.
What is the moral of this story? Next time you drive into someone's car and they get out waving their insurance claim form, tell them calmly and clearly that you are the son, daughter, uncle, aunt, pet dog of..........name your own minister of the French Republic......and advise them in their own interest to pay you 2000 Euros to go away.