Chirac called for questioning in Clearstream probe

12th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 12, 2007 (AFP) - Former French president Jacques Chirac has been summoned for questioning next week in connection with the so-called Clearstream political dirty tricks scandal, a French newspaper reported Tuesday, prompting a swift denial from Chirac's staff.

PARIS, June 12, 2007 (AFP) - Former French president Jacques Chirac has been summoned for questioning next week in connection with the so-called Clearstream political dirty tricks scandal, a French newspaper reported Tuesday, prompting a swift denial from Chirac's staff.

Staff of the former leader -- whose presidential immunity from prosecution formally expires on Saturday at midnight, one month after he left office -- denied the report published in the Wednesday edition of the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine.

Contacted by AFP, Chirac's lawyer Jean Veil said he had not heard of any summons: "I am extremely surprised that such a summons could exist," he said.

Judicial sources were also unable to confirm the report.

The Canard Enchaine reports that top investigating judges Jean-Marie d'Huy and Henri Pons have summoned Chirac for questioning at the Paris financial tribunal on Monday.

The judges are looking into bogus allegations which surfaced in 2004 that several top French politicians and businessmen, including Chirac's successor Nicolas Sarkozy, laundered bribes at the Luxembourg clearing bank Clearstream.

Sarkozy claims that he was the target of a dirty tricks campaign by political rivals aimed at blocking his bid for the presidency.

According to the paper, the judges want to ask Chirac about the origin of leaks to the press of sworn testimony of a senior intelligence official, general Philippe Rondot, at the height of the scandal in April 2006.

The notebooks contained markings such as "orders of the PR" -- which they believe may stand for president of the republic.

In addition to the Clearstream affair, the 74-year-old Chirac's name has been linked to a string of illegal party funding scandals dating from his 18-year tenure as mayor of Paris in the 1980s and 1990s.

As president, he avoided questioning by invoking a constitutional immunity from prosecution, but there has been speculation he could face closer scrutiny now that he has left office.

A justice official has told AFP it is "most probable" that Chirac will be questioned as a witness in the probe into a kickback scheme in which workers for Chirac's former party, the Rally for the Republic (RPR), had salaries paid by Paris city hall or companies that won contracts there.

The so-called "fake jobs" scandal led in 2003 to a series of prosecutions of senior RPR members, including Chirac's close ally Alain Juppe who received a suspended jail term in 2004 and a year-long ban on public office.


COpyright AFP

Subject: French news

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