Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

France: 2014 in review

Read more

#THE 51%

South Africa: Taking a stand against child marriage

Read more

DEBATE

The Future of the Book

Read more

DEBATE

The Future of the Book (part 2)

Read more

REPORTERS

France 24’s best documentaries of 2014

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'We have to build a new Tunisia', says the president of the Tunisian Parliament

Read more

FACE-OFF

France on alert after attacks: a case of collective hysteria?

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'Beijing needs to revaluate its policy in the Tibetan areas', says FM of the Tibetan government-in-exile

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Uruguay: freed Guantanamo detainees try to adjust to normal life

Read more

France

Appeals court holds final session in Clearstream case

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-26

A Paris court heard on Thursday the final plea of public prosecutors, who decided to appeal former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's acquittal in the Clearstream scandal, in which he was accused of slandering President Nicolas Sarkozy.

AFP - Judges hear final arguments Thursday in the Clearstream affair, a political scandal in which France's ex-prime minister Dominique de Villepin is accused of smearing President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The final hearing was to start at 1:30 pm (1130 GMT) to wrap up the complex trial, which centres on a fake list of names that falsely implicated Sarkozy in kickbacks on arms deals with Taiwan.

Sarkozy had accused his bitter political rival Villepin of causing his name to be on the list.

The month-long appeals trial focussed on a web of murky claims and counter-claims about who in European defence company EADS, owner of Airbus, was responsible for the fake list, and whether Villepin could have prevented it.

Villepin, a suave diplomat best remembered for leading the charge against the Iraq war at the United Nations in 2003, was cleared of all charges in a first trial that ended last year.

Public prosecutors appealed but Sarkozy did not take part in the appeal.

Two co-accused -- former deputy boss of aerospace giant EADS Jean-Louis Gergorin and former EADS employee and mathematician Imad Lahoud -- were jailed for 15 and 18 months respectively and fined 40,000 euros (60,000 dollars).

Prosecutor Jean-Louis Perol said during the appeal trial that Villepin was guilty of "complicity by abstention" for failing to stop the false claims.

Perol said there was a "convergence of interests" between Villepin and Gergorin, the "instigator" of the false accusations.

Villepin's lawyers retorted that a person cannot be convicted for "not doing" something.

Prosecutors asked for a 15-month suspended jail term for Villepin.

The complex case dates back to 2004 and centres on a list -- later proved to be false -- of account holders at the Clearstream bank in Luxembourg who had allegedly received kickbacks from the sale of French frigates to Taiwan.

One name on the list was that of Sarkozy, then finance and interior minister under president Jacques Chirac. Sarkozy served alongside Villepin under Chirac, but the pair fell out over who should succeed him.

Opinion polls show that Villepin could get four to five percent of votes in next year's presidential election, potentially enough to split the vote on the right and derail Sarkozy's chances of getting through to the second round.

"I'm not afraid of anything and one isn't afraid of anything when one is innocent," Villepin said ahead of the trial.

The verdict is expected no sooner than September.
 

Date created : 2011-05-26

  • CLEARSTREAM TRIAL

    Prosecutor seeks suspended sentence for Villepin

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Villepin returns to court over Sarkozy smear charges

    Read more

  • CLEARSTREAM TRIAL

    Villepin faces retrial, ex-PM slams Sarkozy's 'vendetta'

    Read more

COMMENT(S)