French gangland boss on trial for cigarette scam

22nd November 2004, Comments 0 comments

MARSEILLE, Nov 23 (AFP) - "Mad Jacky," one of the most notorious gang-leaders in the 1960s French underworld, went on trial in Marseille Tuesday accused of taking part in a Russian mafia scam to manufacture contraband cigarettes.

MARSEILLE, Nov 23 (AFP) - "Mad Jacky," one of the most notorious gang-leaders in the 1960s French underworld, went on trial in Marseille Tuesday accused of taking part in a Russian mafia scam to manufacture contraband cigarettes.

Jacky Imbert, 74, better known by his gang-land nickname "Jacky le Mat," has been in custody since October last year when he was arrested in a police raid on his home.

Described in a profile in Le Monde newspaper as "The Last Mobster," Imbert was suspected by police of starting a career as a contract killer in the early 1960s before sharing with Gaetan "Tani" Zampa control over the thriving Marseille crime scene.

After falling out with Zampa, he was gunned down in 1977 but survived to settle accounts in a grisly series of killings in the following months, Le Monde said.

Later he claimed to have retired from the underworld, but police say that a phone-tap of his home in February 2003 linked him to an operation being run by the Russian mafia to build a clandestine cigarette factory in a warehouse in a suburb of Marseille.

Imbert's lawyer Catherine Martini said that he denied any connection with the affair, and pointed out that he has never once been convicted of a crime.

In an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur magazine in 1993, Imbert said: "The cops always came to ask me about the jobs I didn't do. For the ones I did do, I never saw anyone."

Seven other people were arrested in the police investigation. The trial is expected to last till Friday.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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