CLEARSTREAM TRIAL

Prosecutors demand 18-month suspended sentence for de Villepin

Paris' chief prosecutor demanded the court hand down an 18-month suspended sentence plus a 45,000-euro fine to former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin for his alleged role in the Clearstream affair.

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Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was a chief accomplice in the Clearstream affair "through his silence, and therefore in condoning the actions of [former EADS chief] Jean-Louis Gregorin”, prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin said in summing up the Paris trial on Tuesday.
 
Marin went on to demand the Paris court to hand down an 18-month suspended sentence plus a 45,000 euro fine to former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin for his alleged role in the Clearstream affair.

He also recommended sentences for former head of EADS Jean-Louis Gergorin and IT expert Imad Lahoud in the case. He called for two years in prison including 6 months suspended for Lahoud, and 3 years including 18 months suspended for Gergorin.

 
Prosecutor Victor Richards said the false accusations in the Clearstream affair was the work of Gergorin and Lahoud." "The [false allegations] served their interests, both materially and morally," he said.

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Earlier in his summing up, Mr Marin insisted that the trial, pitting de Villepin against President Nicolas Sarkozy, was not politically motivated.

"It is not opinions or political opponents who are on trial here, but defendants," said Paris prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin during his closing arguments in the month-long hearings.

"This trial is the trial of unacceptable methods," said Marin, "of behaviours on the part of certain men who believe the end justifies the means." added Mr Marin.

De Villepin is charged with plotting to smear Sarkozy and wreck his chances for the presidency in 2004.

At the time both men were jostling to succeed President Jacques Chirac.

Once Chirac's preferred heir, de Villepin is charged with complicity to slander and using forgeries, dealing in stolen documents and breach of trust.

 
'Kickbacks' from sales of warships
 
The complex case centres on a fake list of account holders from the Clearstream financial clearing house who were said to have received kickbacks from the sale of French warships to Taiwan.

Sarkozy's name was on the list. He alleges the scandal was fabricated to tarnish him during his campaign for the party's nomination ahead of the 2007 vote, which he won.

 
Call for leniency for whistleblowers
 
But prosecutors called for journalist Denis Robert, accused of dealing in stolen property, to be cleared of all charges.

They also asked for former Arthur Andersen intern Florian Bourges, who passed on Clearstream documents to Robert, to be convicted of breach of trust but not theft.

Judges are not expected to reach a verdict before January. 

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