Author of incriminating journal set to give evidence
Issued on: Modified:
Gereral Philippe Rondot (pictured), whose infamous notebook is the central piece of evidence in the Clearstream scandal, takes the stand on Monday, in day seven of a trial that could prove damning to former PM Dominique de Villepin.
General Philippe Rondot, whose notebooks are at the very heart of the Clearstream trial, takes the witness stand on Monday. It is the most damning piece of evidence in a trial that has otherwise been characterised by contradictory “his word against yours” testimony.
Rondot’s testimony - which he gives on his 73rd birthday - could crush Dominique de Villepin’s spirited defence last Wednesday, in which he vehemently denied any knowledge of the forged client account lists, let alone accusations of having ordered the forgery himself.
De Villepin is being charged with “conspiracy to commit slander” against President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose name appeared on the forged list.
Rondot’s testimony may shed light on the completely differing accounts of events as offered by former EADS Vice President Jean-Louis Gergorin, who is thought to have ordered the forgery, and former EADS executive Imad Lahoud, who admitted to committing the forgery at what he claims to be Gergorin’s behest. Gergorin’s account in turn contradicts that of de Villepin, who maintains complete and total innocence with regard to the forgery.
A critical entry in Rondot’s notorious notebook is that taken at a meeting on January 9, 2004 at the Interior Ministry, of which de Villepin was head at the time. Rondot was at the time a close associate of de Villepin and the ex-prime minster has maintained that this meeting was when former EADS president Jean-Louis Gergorin informed de Villepin of the existence of the lists, but that Nicolas Sarkozy’s name “never came up” in the context of the lists.
The notes Rondot took at the meeting seemingly contradict this, as they include the entries “Political stakes, Sarkozy” And “an account linked to N. Sarkozy.”
Another notebook entry that has proven inconvenient for de Villepin is dated July 19, 2004, in which the general wrote, "If we appear [on the list], the PR [President of the Republic, Jacques Chirac] and I, we are in a lot of trouble." At his Wednesday court appearance, de Villepin denied having made the remark, saying that the note was based on impressions and was not an accuration account of the conversation.
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe