French prosecutors want two years in jail for ex-minister

29th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

French prosecutors on Thursday demanded two years in jail for ex-interior minister Charles Pasqua on graft charges.

A verdict is expected on Friday in the corruption case involving the 83-year-old ally of ex-president Jacques Chirac, who told the court he had been "humiliated" and "hurt" during the 10-day trial.

Prosecutors also demanded a two year suspended sentence and a 200,000 euro (265,000 dollar) fine against him, and asked the court to strip him of his right to hold office.

A wartime resistance fighter who became an influential politician on the right, Pasqua faces three charges linked to kickbacks and bribes paid out while he was interior minister from 1993 to 1995.

The raspy-voiced politician is accused of receiving payments in return for awarding a license to run a casino to a friend in 1994 and of having links to bribes accepted by his colleagues in two other business deals.

Pasqua is the latest high-profile politician from Chirac's circle to face justice.

Chirac himself is to stand trial in February for misuse of public funds and breach of trust dating back to when he was mayor of Paris in the early 1990s.

Throughout his trial, Pasqua maintained his innocence, telling the Paris court during his two-hour testimony on Wednesday that he had been subjected to a painful ordeal that had affected him and his family.

His only son, Pierre-Philippe, took the witness stand on Tuesday.

"This court appearance affects me deeply," Pasqua told the court. "I am humiliated as a politician, humiliated because my family and I have been dragged through the mud for the past ten years."

Pasqua sought to turn the tables on his accusers, saying he had been betrayed by former allies who were behind the kickback schemes.

"They had their dealings. I had nothing to do with them," he said.

"If you think I'm rotten, then convict me. But I now look you in the eye and I am under the assumption that you know me better than that and that you have another view of me," he added.

Pasqua has already received a suspended 18-month prison sentence in the casino case after a court convicted him of funding his election campaign for the European Parliament with the proceeds of the sale of the casino.

The conviction was confirmed on appeal this month.

In October, Pasqua was also sentenced to a year in jail for his role in illegal arms sales to Angola in the 1990s. He has appealed the conviction.

© 2010 AFP

0 Comments To This Article