French mobster handed four-year jail term

14th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

MARSEILLE, Dec 14 (AFP) - "Mad Jacky," one of the most notorious gang-leaders in the 1960s French underworld, was given his first ever conviction Tuesday when a court in Marseille found him guilty of taking part in a Russian mafia scam to manufacture contraband cigarettes.

MARSEILLE, Dec 14 (AFP) - "Mad Jacky," one of the most notorious gang-leaders in the 1960s French underworld, was given his first ever conviction Tuesday when a court in Marseille found him guilty of taking part in a Russian mafia scam to manufacture contraband cigarettes.

Jacky Imbert, 74, better known by his gangland nickname "Jacky le Mat," was sent to jail for four years after the court agreed that he was the operation's ringleader.

"Everyone here has testified that without Imbert’s authorisation nothing could be done. He has a very strong character. He is not a man who takes orders. He gives orders and others carry them out," prosecutor Marc Gouton said at last month's trial.

Seven others, including Russian-born former nightclub owner Richard Erman, 62, were given smaller sentences.

Imbert's lawyer said he would appeal. "He is innocent. He told us he would never accept being sentenced to even a day in prison," said Catherine Martini.

Described in a recent 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.

Later he claimed to have retired from the underworld, but police say that a phone tap of his home 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. He has been in detention since October 2003.

Despite his known links to crime, Imbert had never before been convicted. In an interview in 1993 he 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."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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