Ex-French health minister charged with ‘endangering lives of others’ during pandemic

Emmanuel Macron portrait smashed by protestors in Poitiers

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Investigators at a special court in Paris concluded on Friday there were grounds to prosecute Ms Buzyn. The prosecutor of the Republic’s Court of Justice said she was charged with “endangering the lives of others” but not for a possible second offence of “failure to stop a disaster”.

Ms Buzyn will be able to appeal the charge and, after arriving for a court hearing yesterday, said she welcomed “an excellent opportunity for me to explain myself and to establish the truth”.

She added she would not “let the action of the government be discredited, or my action as a minister, when we did so much to prepare our country for a global health crisis that is still ongoing”.

Ms Buzyn resigned from her position in February 2020 after the first Covid cases were confirmed in France.

She immediately faced criticism and ridicule over her initial statements about the pandemic.

Back in January 2020, she said there was “practically no risk” of importing the pandemic from Wuhan.

She said the “risk of a spread of the coronavirus among the population is very small”.

Ms Buzyn – who left the ministry to launch a failed bid to become Paris mayor – later claimed the “tsunami has yet to come”, a direct contradiction to her previous statements.

To date, France has seen more than 115,000 deaths and more than 6.89 million cases.

France also faced a severe shortage of masks at the start of the pandemic and Emmanuel Macron’s government was inconsistent on its advice on face coverings.

Other notable French politicians – including former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and current health minister Olivier Veran – are also being investigated.

This comes as French President Emmanuel Macron faces increasing scrutiny over his handling of the pandemic.

Nearly 200 protests took place across France today in a coordinated pushback against Mr Macron’s government.

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Protesters have taken to the streets in major French cities, including the capital Paris, for the ninth consecutive weekly protest against the ‘health pass’.

However, the protests quickly turned violent in the French capital, where clashes were filmed.

Police were seen using batons to hit protesters while other officers fired off tear gas to disperse the march.

One police officer is understood to be injured after being struck with a firework.

Another person posted a photo of a bloodied protester, tweeting: “A man is bleeding after being beaten to the head with a baton.”

A protester at the scene tweeted: “It’s a showdown between protestors and police during the Covid-19 anti-pass protest in Paris, Place Wagram.”

This weekend’s protest takes place just days before a law mandating vaccines for hospital staff goes into effect.

Authorities expect around 170,000 demonstrators throughout France, including 30,000 in Paris – a jump in numbers compared to previous weeks.

The Interior Ministry counted 140,000 demonstrators last Saturday and 165,000 the previous week.

France imposed the pass to put more pressure on people to get vaccinated.

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