The top officials are accused of being criminally negligent for failing to do enough to save lives as the Covid-19 crisis unfolded, so the virus-weary world watched to see if any government heads would roll.
But the watch is likely to be a long one, and in the end nobody will be sent to jail and no-one will even be convicted of any wrongdoing, commentators say.
“This inquiry by the Court of Justice of the Republic verges on the ridiculous and has not the slightest chance of success,” fumed politician Jacques Myard of the Les Républicains opposition right-wing party.
“It is the legal system gone mad,” he told The Independent.
Bruno Jeanbart of polling firm OpinionWay agreed that the investigation was “absurd” and unlikely to ever reach a satisfactory conclusion.
“I even think it’s extremely dangerous that the legal system accepted such a case,” he said to The Independent.
The police raids on Thursday morning came just hours after President Emmanuel Macron announced that Paris and other cities were being put under curfew to try and stem a massive surge in new coronavirus cases.
The latest figures published further fuelled fears that France’s health system was on the verge of being overwhelmed, with 32,427 reported on Saturday. Overall, almost 34,000 people have died from the virus in France.
It was anger over the handling of the health crisis that led to dozens of legal complaints by doctors, nursing homes, local authorities and ordinary citizens against the government.
They included accusations of manslaughter and endangering life, and blamed the administration for being too slow to roll out testing and for downplaying the importance of wearing masks.
Most of the lawsuits were dismissed but the nine that were taken on board were wrapped into an investigation that seeks to determine whether officials in charge at the outbreak of the virus earlier this year showed a “lack of will to fight a disaster”.
The probe was launched in July but it was only this week that the police came knocking.
They arrived at the homes and offices of health minister Olivier Véran, former prime minister Édouard Philippe, public health director Jerome Salomon, former health minister Agnès Buzyn, and former government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye.
The wheels of French justice turn extremely slowly, so it is likely to be some time before any charges are made, if indeed any are made at all.
It took eight years of investigation before ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy was finally charged on Friday over claims he and his associates accepted tens of millions of euros from Libyan dictator Muammer Kadhafi to help fund his successful 2007 election bid.
And the fact that the Covid-19 probe into the current health minister and the other officials is being handled by the Cour de Justice de la République does not bode well for a resolution of the case that the plaintiffs will find satisfactory.
In the ten cases the court, which overlooks the Place des Invalides in central Paris, has handled since it was established almost 30 years ago, it has never sent anyone to prison.
It notably in 2016 found Christine Lagarde, who is currently European Central Bank president, guilty of negligence when she was France’s finance minister in her role in a controversial €400m payment to a businessman.
But it said that Lagarde, who was the head of the International Monetary Fund when the court handed down its verdict, should not be punished nor suffer the shame of gaining a criminal record for the conviction.
She also avoided a possible year in prison and a €13,000 fine.
The Cour de Justice de la République was set up in 1993 in the wake of France's contaminated blood scandal of the 1980s and 90s.
Its brief is to handle alleged misconduct by ministers and other government figures in the course of their duties.
The current case against the health minister and his co-accused requires proof that they decided “intentionally” not to act accordingly in the face of the growing health crisis.
“I don’t see how they can prove that intentionally Véran and the others would have tried to kill French people... It is totally absurd,” said Jeanbart of OpinionWay.
The case will likely drag on for years and end up either being dropped or with nobody being convicted, he predicted.
He said that it was “dangerous” that the legal system had accepted the case because any alleged wrongdoing by the government should first have been probed by parliamentary commissions.
Judges, who in France are in charge of running investigations, were possibly using the case to attack the government, he speculated.
“There is a feeling among judges that they are impeded by politicians’” and this may be a way of striking back, he said.
Some commentators argued that the probe was a sign that France’s democracy and legal system were in robust health, but many saw the move as largely pointless.
Véran for his part seemed unperturbed by the fact that police officers had called to see him at his home and had searched his ministerial offices, and that he faced possible manslaughter charges.
Appearing on a political talk show on Thursday evening, he humbly said that he was a regular citizen like everybody else in the eyes of the law and that justice would take its course.
He is likely to take comfort from the words of President Macron, who has publicly stated his distaste for the Cour de Justice de la République.
“Our country needs an audacious executive... and (not one) which in the exercise of their powers is constantly held in check by the perspective of criminal proceedings,” he said in the early days of his presidency.
He himself cannot be hit by lawsuits while he is still in the Elysée because sitting presidents enjoy immunity from prosecution.