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Prosecutors hammer home de Villepin accusation

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-10-20

As the Clearstream trial draws to a close, prosecutors (pictured) are to argue that former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin played a pivotal role in a smear campaign against Nicolas Sarkozy before he was elected president.

French state prosecutors are set to sum up their case on Tuesday against former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who they accuse of leading a smear campaign against Nicolas Sarkozy before he was elected president.

Jean-Claude Marin and his deputy Victor Richards are expected to spend at least six hours telling the Paris court why they believe de Villepin is guilty "at least by his inaction."

The prosecution accuses de Villepin of not having "advised the judicial authority" that the listings were false, in 2004, when he was informed.

Reporting from the court, FRANCE 24’s Catherine Norris Trent said prosecutors would also be making recommendations for sentences, should the court return a guilty verdict.

“But the focus today will be on the role of Dominique de Villepin,” she said. “They will be painting him in a passive role, as someone who failed to sound the alarm. It remains to be seen if this accusation will stand up in court.”

On Monday, Sarkozy’s lawyer Thierry Herzog told the court that de Villepin had “instigated” the false allegation that Sarkozy held secret funds abroad that came from alleged illegal kickbacks from the sale of French frigates to Taiwan.

De Villepin and four others are accused of conspiracy to slander Sarkozy in 2004 with falsified bank documents implicating him in a bribe-taking scheme.

Along with former vice-chairman of EADS, Jean-Louis Gergorin, IT expert Imad Lahoud, journalist Denis Robert and former auditor Florian Bourges, de Villepin is accused of playing a part in a vast conspiracy in which the names of political heavyweights were added to account lists at Luxembourg financial clearing house Clearstream.

The sensational trial, called the “trial of the decade” in France, opened a month ago, with suave career diplomat de Villepin accusing his former political rival, Sarkozy, of pursuing a personal vendetta against him.

Tuesday’s closing statements by the prosecution will be followed by statements from the defence on Wednesday, with much attention focused on the final arguments of Villepin’s four lawyers.

The trial is expected to close on Friday evening with a verdict expected in early 2010.

Date created : 2009-10-20

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