Souad Meslem, a 59-year-old French judge, faces up to 10 years in prison for allegedly using her legal authority to orchestrate a sham wedding, to prevent her ex-partner from getting married.

The romanesque folly, as a fellow magistrate called the whole affair, had started off so well back in 2017, Le Monde reports. Meslem and her partner were about to move together to La Réunion — a heavenly island and French overseas department in the Indian Ocean — after she had been nominated assistant public prosecutor of the Court of Appeal of Saint-Denis de La Réunion. Meslam would move first, and her partner and father of their four children would join her there a few weeks later.

But he never showed up, announcing instead that he wanted to break up after 28 years together after he had fallen in love with one of their mutual friends.

It was too much for Meslem, who feared the pair would marry. She devised a detailed plan to sabotage her ex-partner, which became "an obsession," according to a senior judicial official quoted in Le Monde.

She stole his passport, made a copy and got access to his birth certificate. With these precious documents, Meslem began to meticulously organize the wedding for March 5, 2019. She published the official announcement, booked a slot at the town hall for the ceremony and even bought a plane ticket for her ex-partner's brother whom she'd recruited as the stand-in groom. The jilted mother also convinced her eldest daughter to sign the official documents as a witness for the groom.

It was only a few months later that the "lucky guy," a lawyer himself, found out through colleagues that he was officially married to his ex. Meslem, who had come back to mainland France, had just been appointed vice-president of Colombes local tribunal, a suburb west of Paris, in September 2019.

Meslem was arrested two months later near Paris, and was later charged by an examining magistrate, in Versailles, for "forgery and use of forgeries in public writing, undue obtaining of administrative documents and use of forged administrative documents by a person holding public authority." She was placed under legal supervision, and suspended from her post for "failures in her duties of legality, probity and integrity."

While Meslem could face a ten-year sentence on mainland France, the court back on the island of La Réunion has launched proceedings to annul the bogus wedding.


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