Trial for two lawyers suspected of having used forgery to exonerate a drug trafficker

My Joseph Cohen-Sabban and Xavier Nogueras are suspected of having used a document to exonerate their client Robert Dawes, tried in 2018 for importing 1.3 tonnes of cocaine into France. Document provided by the accused.

Two figures from the courtrooms, lawyers Joseph Cohen-Sabban and Xavier Nogueras, will appear before the Paris Criminal Court, suspected of having produced forgeries before an assize court at the end of 2018 to exonerate, in vain, the drug trafficker Robert Dawes.

In an order dated Monday, three Parisian investigating judges refer these two lawyers to trial for “complicity in an attempted fraud in the judgment” and for “violation of professional secrecy”. A decision that will not improve the already tumultuous relations between lawyers and magistrates.

False document

The case began with the trial at the Assizes in December 2018 in Paris of Robert Dawes, accused of having imported 1.3 tonnes of cocaine in 2013 on board an Air France flight connecting Caracas to Paris, a seizure of a amount then estimated at 50 million euros. At the opening of the proceedings, his lawyers had produced a supposed Spanish order presenting as illegal a vital telephone tap for the prosecution, and amending several transcripts of actual conversations to also exonerate Dawes.

“Why is it not in the file?”, thundered Me Joseph Cohen-Sabban, while the document in question indicated that the sound system in which Robert Dawes recognizes that the drugs belong to him would have been carried out without the agreement of the local magistrate. .

With his colleagues Xavier Nogueras and Hugues Vigier, the lawyer had pounded the procedure and demanded the dismissal of the trial as well as additional information in order to record the authenticity of the documents. Except that these arguments turned against them: in a few days, the court dismissed these documents and qualified them as “false”. The trafficker will be sentenced to twenty-two years of criminal imprisonment, and a judicial investigation is opened in March 2019 on these suspicions of forgery.

Document “Strengthen Credit”

At the end of nearly three years of investigation, the examining magistrate Aude Buresi, first seized in this file, concedes in her order that “no element of the file makes it possible to establish with certainty that one of the four lawyers “quoted in the file, “and in particular Xavier Nogueras or Joseph Cohen-Sabban, knew that the documents presented before the Assize Court were forgeries.”

But she believes that the latter two have “knowingly agreed to give up the independence essential to the exercise of their function by espousing the unfair projects and the schemes employed by Robert Dawes”. For her, it is not only a question of “professional failings”, because the verifications of the two lawyers on the authenticity of what she describes as “miraculous pieces (…) seems to have had the exclusive purpose” of in “strengthening credit” with the Paris Court of Assizes.

Regarding Me Cohen-Sabban, “all of the judicial information demonstrates (his) desire to join in the maneuvers of his client”, writes the judge.

“How can you say that after 45 years of professional practice, more than 1,000 cases pleaded before the Assize Courts, I waited to suddenly become the accomplice of facts that I totally condemn? It’s so grotesque, and I have so many ways to demonstrate it that the excess of the assertions of this ordinance leaves me unmoved”, reacted Me Cohen-Sabban, specialist in organized crime cases.

“We maintain that in no case Me Xavier Nogueras participated in the facts of complicity in attempted fraud in the judgment and that he did not violate any ethical rule”, reacted his lawyers, Mes Matthieu Chirez and Hervé Temime .

Concerning Robert Dawes and his henchman Evan Hughes, the investigating judge sends them to trial for “attempted fraud in judgment” but also for “false public writing”, a qualification that the Paris prosecutor’s office did not have detention. According to the order, the drug trafficker “imagined the fakes and had them made” by Hughes, with the help of “third parties” who are only the subject of “solid presumptions”.

Contacted, the lawyer for the first Me Thomas Bidnic “reserves his comments for the court”. Me Antoine Beauquier, lawyer for the second, did not wish to comment. Three other lawyers, including Me Hugues Vigier, will not be prosecuted.

Another procedure in Nanterre

Definitively sentenced, Robert Dawes has since tried to dynamite the procedure at the origin of the prosecution: he obtained the appointment in July of a judge from Nanterre to investigate suspicions of false reports during the famous seizure of cocaine September 2013 at Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle airport.

In his viewfinder, the former boss of “stups” François Thierry, whose controversial investigative techniques, in particular his management of “indicators”, have earned him several indictments.

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