Ex-French PM Cresson faces EU corruption trial

15th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, June 15 (AFP) - A Belgian court will decide this month whether former French prime minister Edith Cresson is to stand trial over a fraud scandal which brought down the European Commission in 1999, sources said Tuesday.

BRUSSELS, June 15 (AFP) - A Belgian court will decide this month whether former French prime minister Edith Cresson is to stand trial over a fraud scandal which brought down the European Commission in 1999, sources said Tuesday.

Brussels prosecutors have called for her to face court, although they have scaled back initial accusations and now want her charged with signing 13 false orders for work by her former dentist and aide Rene Berthelot.

A court is to rule on June 29 whether the case should go to trial. Cresson was initially accused last March of cronyism during her time as a member of the Commission in the late 1990s.

Cresson, who was French prime minister from 1991 to 1992, was accused of organising the hiring between 1996 and 1997 of Berthelot, a personal friend who was allegedly paid some EUR 150,000 (USD 181,000 for a fictitious job.

Belgian daily Le Soir reported in February that the allegedly false documents involved payments of about EUR 7,000 to Berthelot.

The 1999 Brussels fraud scandal sparked the collapse of the Commission headed by Jacques Santer, whose successor Romano Prodi has battled to clean up the tarnished reputation of the European Union's executive.

As well as the alleged fraud involving Berthelot, Cresson was also accused of giving benefits to a French company for work carried out in connection with an EU training programme of which she was in charge.

By coincidence, Cresson faces questioning on June 30 - a day after the Belgian court decision - in front of the Commission, which is due to decide whether to pursue administrative disciplinary measures against her.

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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