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Judge orders investigation into murky Franco-Pakistani corruption claims

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2010-02-04

A French judge has ordered an investigation into corruption allegations that have emerged relating to an arms deal between France and Pakistan in the1990s. It is suspected the corruption may be linked to a 2002 attack that killed 11 French citizens.

A French judge has ordered a preliminary investigation following allegations of an illegal arms deal between French authorities and Pakistan between 1993 and 1995 under then French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur.

The investigation comes after a complaint was filed by the families of 11 French technicians and engineers killed in an attack on a bus in the southern Pakistani town of Karachi on May 8th, 2002. A suicide bomber attacked the bus carrying the French naval engineers from their Karachi hotel to the submarines on which they worked, which had been sold to Pakistan in the suspect deal.

The families put forth that they were deceived by the French state and top ranking French and Pakistani political leaders, and allege that their loved ones died as a result of a sordid political funding scandal. They also accuse Balladur and his supporters of benefitting from the deal.

First thought to be a terrorist attack by al Qaeda, the bombing is now suspected to have been an act of revenge by angry Pakistani military officials, as Jacques Chirac - who beat Balladur in the 1995 presidential election - cancelled the backhanders soon after his election.

“This decision is a first victory for the victim’s families”, Olivier Morice, the lawyer representing the families, told AFP. “It means that our accusations of corruption, in the light of new evidence, are serious enough to be taken into account”, he added.

The French financial body DNIF has been entrusted with the investigation. The probe may involve French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was Balladur’s budget minister and campaign manager at the time.

Date created : 2010-02-04

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