Former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, sentenced to one year in prison for his role in the illegal sale of arms to Angola in the 1990s, said then president Jacques Chirac was fully aware of what was going on.
Former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, sentenced in late October to one year in prison for his role in the arms-to-Angola or “Angolagate” scandal, insisted Thursday that France’s highest-ranking officials knew about the sale of arms in 1995.
During a press conference in Paris, Pasqua told reporters that then president Jacques Chirac and his top presidential aid, and former prime minister, Dominique de Villepin were fully aware of the arms sales, and had failed in their duties by keeping quiet about this knowledge.
The 82-year-old French senator reiterated his call to French authorities to declassify sensitive documents linked to the deal, which he says are protecting many of those once involved in the illegal arms trade.
Pasqua announced he would also press charges against the ruling judge in the case, Philippe Courroye, for conducting one-sided proceedings that failed to collect declarations from Chirac or de Villepin.
At the end of the press conference Pasqua held up what he said was a declassified document that he had obtained proving his assertions were true, but said that he was not able to share the document with the press at that time.
France 24’s political editor Melissa Bell, who attended the press conference, said the document was a 1995 report from the French secret service warning the president and top government ministries of weapons trafficking to war-torn Angola.
Arms sales to Angola began in 1993 while former president Francois Mitterrand, a Socialist, was in power and continued until 1998, three years after the election of conservative Jacques Chirac.
The weapons were sent to Angola through a French-based firm and its Eastern European subsidiary.
The huge Soviet-made arsenal that fuelled Angola's grim civil conflict included 420 tanks, 150,000 shells, 170,000 anti-personnel mines, 12 helicopters, and six warships and was worth 790 million dollars (530 million euros).
Only six of the 42 defendants were acquitted in the “Angolagate” trial which began in October after years of complex investigations.
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