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Latest update : 2009-03-07

A verdict date for several near-celebrity French men accused of trafficking weapons to Angola in the 1990s was set for October 27 by a French court on Wednesday.

AFP - A French court will hand down verdicts in October in the trial of several politicians and businessmen accused of arms trafficking to Angola in the 1990s, the judge said Wednesday.
Prosecutors are seeking six-year jail sentences for Russian-born Israeli businessman Arkadi Gaydamak and his French associate Pierre Falcone for the weapons shipments worth 790 million dollars to Angola.
The son of late president Francois Mitterrand, Jean-Christophe, who served as Africa advisor to his father, faces one year in jail for allegedly accepting millions of euros in "consultant fees" on the arms deals between 1993 and 1998.
In all, 42 defendants went on trial on October 6 including former interior minister Charles Pasqua and novelist Paul-Loup Sulitzer, both of whom face suspended sentences.
Presiding judge Jean-Baptiste Parlos set October 27 as judgement day.
Prosecutors say millions of dollars were skimmed off to bribe senior French and Angolan figures, including President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos.
The arms sales began when Socialist Mitterrand was president in 1993 but continued until 1998, three years after conservative Jacques Chirac's election.
The arsenal -- 420 tanks, 150,000 shells, 170,000 anti-personnel mines, 12 helicopters and six warships -- shored up Dos Santos' regime during its vicious bush war against rebels.
The Angolagate trial has poisoned France's relations with Angola where it hopes to develop massive oil contracts, prompting President Nicolas Sarkozy to fly to Luanda last May to mend ties.

Date created : 2009-03-04