International Judicial Monitor
Published by the International Judicial Academy, Washington, D.C., with assistance from the
American Society of International Law

Fall 2016/Winter 2017 Issue

Justice In Profile


Jean-louis Bruguiere, France
Investigating Magistrate
Paris Court of Serious Claims

Jean-louis Bruguiere

Events in France in the past two years have exposed for world view the terrorism threats that have plagued that country. France, dating back to the 19th Century, experienced terrorist attacks of various kinds. Beginning in 1975 and continuing to the end of the 20th Century, the number of those attacks began to increase. In the 21st Century attacks are setting new records for violence. In November, 2015 130 persons were killed and 352 injured in multiple locations in Paris (including a Paris nightclub, a sports stadium and multiple bars and restaurants)  “the single  deadliest terrorist attack in French history.” And in July of last year, 86 persons were killed, and 434 were injured, when a cargo truck rammed into crowds along the waterfront of Nice.

Investigating terrorism for the French government was the main task of one of its investigating magistrates, Jean-Louis Bruguiere of the Paris Court of Serious Claims. Judge Bruguiere, who is a descendant of a long line of investigating magistrates, began his career in the 1970s. He attended first the d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, followed by attendance from 1970-1973 at the French school for judges, the Ecole Nationale de la Magistrature in Bordeaux. After his first assignment in Evreux he was transferred to Paris where he gained recognition for his pursuit of sex crime offenders. He first became involved in anti-terrorist activities in1982, and became known for the capture of a notorious terrorist, Ilich Sanchez.

Judge Bruguiere became better known for his fight against international terrorism through his investigations relating to the downing of the French airliner UTA (Union de Transports Aeriens) Flight 772  in September, 1989 over the Sahara Desert. This incident involved a bomb explosion aboard the plane and  resulted in the deaths of 156 passengers and 14 crew members. Judge Bruguiere worked with the International Civil Aviation Organization to determine the perpetrators. The investigation resulted in the obtaining of a confession from one of the suspects


from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the flight had originated. This development resulted in Judge Bruguiere bringing charges against six men, all Libyans, one of which was a relative of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi (known as “Brotherly Leader" and Guide of the Revolution) and deputy head of the Libyan intelligence service. Gaddafi refused to extradite the six Libyans to France. As a result the six were tried in 1999 in absentia and convicted.

Judge Bruguiere’ s limiting the charges to Libyans became controversial after a French journalist accused him of disregarding evidence of the involvement of three other countries in the disaster: Lebanon, Syria and Iran. However, a former Libyan foreign minister who was a Libyan government defector stated that the operation of downing Flight 772 had been the work of the Libyan security services who blew up the plane,” apparently as an act of revenge against France for supporting Chad in the Libya-Chad war of 1978-1987.

Judge Bruguiere was involved in another controversial  case involving the assassination in 1994 of Rwanda President Juvenal Havyarimana and President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi. His controversial act of arresting Paul Kagame, current president of Rwanda, was based on the oral testimony of a Rwandan former member of the Rwanda Patriotic Front who is now living in exile, and a French security officer in charge of wiretapping at the Elysee Palace, the home of the French President.

Judge Bruguiere retired from his position as an examining magistrate in 2007 to enter politics and the campaign of French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy. After Sarkozy’s defeat, he was selected to direct the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (European Union) located in the U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington. He is currently a member of the advisory board of The Chertoff Group in Washington.

Judge Bruguiere is a member of the World Economic Forum and the Trilateral Commission.

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© 2017 – The International Judicial Academy
with assistance from the American Society of International Law.

Editor: James G. Apple.
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