Charles Pasqua, a former French interior minister, says he will appeal his prison sentence announced by a Paris court Tuesday in the 'Angolagate' case. His appeal, he said, will involve a request to lift state secrets on illegal arms sales.
Former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua announced his appeal of his prison sentence on arms trafficking charges shortly after it was handed down on Tuesday. His defence will be organised, he said, around a request to President Nicolas Sarkozy to uncover state secrets on arms sales.
The Paris court had found Pasqua guilty of bribed weapons sales to Angola while the African country was in the midst of a vicious civil war in the 1990s. His sentence included one year in prison without parole, a two-year suspended term and a 100-thousand-euro fine.
Pasqua, currently a senator for the Hauts-de-Seine near Paris, announced his request to lift state secrets on France 2 television channel on Tuesday evening.
Pasqua said that, during the Angolan civil war, the sales were known to French government leaders all the way up to President Jacques Chirac. “[He] was informed, the prime minister was informed, and so were most of the cabinet,” Pasqua said, calling the verdict “incomprehensible”.
“What on earth am I doing here in this Angola trial?” Pasqua was quoted as asking, astonished. He continues to claim his innocence. The former minister is one of 42 Angolagate defendants, and among them, just six were acquitted – including Jacques Attali, an advisor to former French President François Mitterand.
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Other “power players” in the trial were among the 12 defendants sentenced to jail terms. Businessman Pierre Falcone and his Russian-born Israeli associate Arkadi Gaydamak received six years without the possibility of parole, the maximum sentence the court could impose. Their lawyers have also announced an appeal. Pasqua’s former advisor, Jean-Charles Marchiani, was given 15 months without parole.
Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, 62, who in the early 1990s served as an advisor on Africa to his president father, was given a two-year suspended sentence and a 375,000-euro fine for receiving embezzled funds from the illegal arms sales.
These court proceedings are not the only ones that 82-year-old Pasqua still faces. He is required to answer charges in three other separate outstanding cases of corruption and misuse of state assets.
Date created : 2009-10-28