Ex-Chirac ally gets suspended sentence for corruption

30th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

A French court on Friday slapped a one-year suspended sentence on Charles Pasqua, a former ally of president Jacques Chirac, on charges of corruption while he was a government minister.

The 83-year-old senator was cleared of two of the three counts of corruption involving kickbacks and bribes allegedly paid while he was interior minister from 1993 to 1995.

Pasqua was convicted of embezzlement linked to the Sofremi agency, which sells police equipment abroad and is controlled by the interior ministry.

Prosecutors had sought two years in jail and a two-year suspended sentence for Pasqua, a wartime resistance fighter who became an influential politician on the right.

Pasqua is the latest high-profile politician from Chirac's circle to face justice.

Chirac himself is to stand trial in February for misuse of public funds and breach of trust dating back to when he was mayor of Paris in the early 1990s.

Throughout his trial, Pasqua maintained his innocence, telling the Paris court that he had been subjected to a painful ordeal that had affected him and his family.

His only son, Pierre-Philippe, took the witness stand on Tuesday.

"This court appearance affects me deeply," Pasqua told the court. "I am humiliated as a politician, humiliated because my family and I have been dragged through the mud for the past ten years."

Prosecutors had also demanded a 200,000 euro (265,000 dollar) fine against him, and asked the court to strip him of his right to hold office.

In October, Pasqua was also sentenced to a year in jail for his role in illegal arms sales to Angola in the 1990s. He has appealed that conviction.

© 2010 AFP

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