French defence minister called as witness in appeal

20th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

France's former interior minister Charles Pasqua, facing prison for his part in a scheme to smuggle arms to Angola, called Thursday for Defence Minister Alain Juppe to testify at his appeal.

The 83-year-old political veteran, a leading figure of the French right for five decades, was sentenced to at least a year's jail in October 2009 in the first "Angolagate" trial, but lodged an appeal and has not yet been jailed.

Appearing in court Thursday on the third day of his appeal, Pasqua called for Juppe, who was foreign minister and prime minister during the period of the scandal, to testify in his case.

He also called on former defence minister Francois Leotard and Christian Jacob, now leader of the majority UMP in parliament, to take the witness stand.

But he said he would not ask former president Jacques Chirac to appear, despite having earlier threatened to do so, saying that he "understood perfectly" why his former boss could not do so.

Pasqua was sentenced to one year in jail plus two years suspended for illegally lobbying in favour of an arms deal that breached an international embargo and allegedly served to provide kickbacks for French personalities.

He and around 20 others convicted of various roles in the scandals have lodged an appeal. The second trial is due to last until March 2.

© 2011 AFP

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