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France justice minister in talks with disgruntled judges

[JURIST] French Justice Minister Rachida Dati [official profile, in French; BBC profile] engaged in emergency discussions with senior members of the French judiciary on Monday to prevent a threatened judges' revolt. Objections have been raised to what some regard as the authoritarian style the controversial politician [Telegraph report] has adopted since her appointment by new French President Nicolas Sarkozy [official profile, in French; JURIST news archive]; in the process, Dati has been accused of trying to muddy the constitutional separation of powers between the judiciary and the executive. Several advisers in Dati's office have already quit in protest.

Dati was sharply criticized earlier this year for saying that she was "head of the prosecutors" while responding to opposition to a bill she proposed [JURIST report] to toughen the French criminal code [text, in French]. Last Friday France's Higher Judicial Council [official website] summoned her for questioning after she sparred with a prosecutor who criticized her proposal. She is the first Justice Minister to be summoned by the Council. Dati, 41, is a Muslim of North African origin; trained as a lawyer, she enjoyed a mercurial rise in Sarkozy's inner circle since she began advising him on immigration issues in 2002 when he was still Interior Minister. The Times has more.

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