The Court of Cassation on Tuesday rejected the appeal of the former president and director of the Louvre Jean-Luc Martinez, who contests his indictment in the multi-pronged investigation into vast trafficking in antiquities, according to a ruling consulted on Wednesday by the AFP. The highest court of the French judiciary rejected all the arguments raised. Jean-Luc Martinez, 59, who directed the Louvre from 2013 to 2021, maintained in particular that there was no serious and consistent evidence justifying his indictment and that his custody was irregular. He thus contested the decision of the investigating chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal which had rejected his request for nullity in February. His lawyer did not wish to speak.
The former executive of Agence France Museums, Jean-François Charnier, also indicted since 2022, had also filed an appeal. In its decision, the Court of Cassation asks the investigating chamber to re-examine the legality of his police custody. “Jean-François Charnier is delighted with this decision (...) which should lead to the cancellation of his indictment,” said his lawyer, Me Corinne Hershkovitch.
The former president and director of the Louvre has been indicted since May 2022, in particular for complicity in organized gang fraud. He is accused of having, in 2016, “modified a report on the provenance of a stele of Tutankhamun”, sold for 8.5 million euros to the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, and of having “facilitated the justification falsehood of the origin” of this work and six other Egyptian pieces. Jean-Luc Martinez is suspected of having ignored alerts on suspicion of false certificates of origin for these objects. “I wish to convince people that I had no knowledge of these alerts and false documents, and besides, it was not my role,” he declared in the spring before the investigating judge.
In the years preceding the inauguration of the Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2017, “the pressure I felt was for architectural success and the quality of loans and French exhibitions,” he added, dismissing any pressure from the Emirati authorities. or policies in France.
The Central Office for the Fight against Trafficking in Cultural Property (OCBC), responsible for investigations, is seeking to determine responsibilities in the sale of hundreds of antiquities resulting from looting in countries in the Near and Middle East made unstable by Arab Spring. In this judicial investigation, at least nine people are indicted.