Wednesday 18 October 2017

Former premiere says retrial is Sarkozy ploy

Henry Samuel in Paris

DOMINIQUE de Villepin accused Nicolas Sarkozy of interfering with French justice yesterday after prosecutors said he would be retried over allegations that he sought to smear the president.

The appeal will wreck the former prime minister's own presidential bid.

Mr de Villepin called the decision "political", and accused the president of a campaign of "relentlessness and hatred" unworthy of his office.

On Thursday, he was cleared of exploiting falsified papers to try to prevent Mr Sarkozy succeeding Jacques Chirac, under whom both men served.

The verdict was a humiliating birthday present for the French president, a civil plaintiff in the case, who turned 55 on judgment day. It appeared to herald Mr de Villepin's political rebirth as an "alternative" centre-right candidate in France's 2012 presidential elections.

But the Paris prosecutor announced yesterday that he would seek a new trial. Jean-Claude Marin said he found it "surprising" that the court had not followed his call for an 18-month sentence and a €45,000 fine against Mr de Villepin.

The trial centred on why Mr Sarkozy's name was on a bogus list of account holders at the Clearstream financial clearing house who allegedly took bribes from the sale of French warships to Taiwan.

Two other defendants received prison terms. (©The Daily Telegraph, London)

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