Ex-PM placed under investigation in smear probe

27th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 27, 2007 (AFP) - Former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin was placed under formal investigation Friday -- a first step to possible criminal charges -- over a smear campaign targeting President Nicolas Sarkozy, justice officials said.

PARIS, July 27, 2007 (AFP) - Former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin was placed under formal investigation Friday -- a first step to possible criminal charges -- over a smear campaign targeting President Nicolas Sarkozy, justice officials said.

Villepin, 53, was questioned by two judges probing the so-called Clearstream affair, in which Sarkozy's name was wrongly linked in 2004 to an illegal bank account in Luxembourg.

The judges placed him under investigation for "complicity to make false accusations", as a result of new evidence that suggests he may have actively encouraged the leaking of false information against Sarkozy, 52.

The case against him also includes "receiving stolen goods, breach of trust and complicity to use forged documents."

Villepin, whose office and home were searched by the judges earlier this month, denies breaking the law.

He issued a statement at the time denouncing the "untruthful allegations" against him and insisting that he "never sought to investigate or compromise any political personality in the Clearstream affair".

The new evidence against him emerged in documents retrieved by experts from the computer of former intelligence chief Philippe Rondot, who conducted a secret enquiry into the affair in 2004.


AFP

Subject: French news

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