The decision today follows a closed hearing in Paris before an examining magistrate that end just hours ago. Lasting a total of five hours, the hearing before examining magistrate Marie-Claire Noiriel was with just the Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets director and his lawyer Thierry Marembert. Walking out of the Paris courthouse with no indictment against him, the EuropaCorp founder has been declared an “assisted witness.”
Under French law, an “assisted witness” is roughly defined as an individual who is not under formal investigation and indictment, but could still be implicated by evidence to be guilty of the offense they are alleged to have committed. Which means there could be more to come for Besson.
Yet, at the same time, today’s decision appears to be the best possible outcome for Besson right now.
“After several hours of questioning on Monday, the Judge immediately ruled that Luc Besson is only an ‘assisted witness’ and is not under ‘formal investigation’ in the matter, EuropaCorp’s USA attorney Michael Kump told Deadline. “The Judge will issue a notice shortly,” he added, in what is expected to be about another 90 days before the formal notice is made public.
“This hearing in Paris is part of ongoing judicial proceedings that began with an investigation by the police and public prosecutor, and has found that no criminal acts had been committed,” Kump also noted. “Mr. Besson continues to fully cooperate with the authorities and to deny all accusations made against him, and he looks forward to clearing his name.”
Back in February 2019, French prosecutors dropped their initial probe of Van Roy’s sexual assault claims against the much accused Besson. The investigation was shuttered at the time because of insufficient evidence, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
Van Roy alleged in 2018 she had been raped multiple times by Besson, director of Valerian, Nikita, Leon and The Fifth Element. In response, Besson had called Van Roy’s claims “fantasist accusations.” The actress had small roles in Besson’s Taxi 5 and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. After Van Roy’s complaint, eight other women came forward with accusations against Besson too.
In October 2019, a judge ordered the latest investigation after new charges against Besson were raised in the Van Roy matter.
Amidst the investigations and another case involving the unlawful axing of Besson’s longtime assistant, Axel Duroux was been named CEO of EuropaCorp last August. As the troubled French film giant reeled from the scandals and less than stellar box office performance, Besson was shuffled in the summer to the newly-formed role of non-executive chairman with Artistic Director duties.
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